For the past year I've been involved in a research project in conjunction with Melbourne University and Able Music Therapy looking at the therapeutic benefits of a music program that we run with people who have an intellectual disability. It has been a fascinating process and the final report will be launched in about a month but even greater possibilities are now beginning to emerge.
One of the recommendations coming out of the report will be to explore how music groups can be used to connect people into the community. Obviously this fits well into our Federal Government's social inclusion agenda, but significantly it is also perfectly suited to The Salvation Army. We've almost exclusively used our own musical resources for evangelical efforts, but what if music was something that could helpfully connect our corps and social services?
I'm not just talking about getting our social service clients playing in brass bands (though I'm prepared to be surprised about how successful this might be) but with some creative thinking there are a multitude of ways that the rich musical heritage of The Salvation Army could contribute to the life of social services. One of the things that I think ought to characterise all of our services is a commitment to a holistic framework for helping people. This means that we are not satisfied with housing people if they are left hungry, or feeding people if they always have to eat alone, or caring for people's health when their lives are void of art, music, spiritual connection, love and fun! Our hope for ourselves and for others is 'fullness of life' and we should not settle for less.