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Risky Business

Risky Business is a cross-disciplinary investigation of the creative arts as an intervention activity for young people at risk. The three-year research project, 2002-2005, involved case studies of ten youth arts projects at Parkville, Footscray, Dandenong and Bendigo.

The study found that young people who engaged in the arts programs experienced a broad range of personal and social benefits, including increased self-esteem, artistic and communication skills development, a sense of achievement and well-being, community connectedness and social inclusion, as well as pure enjoyment.

The research demonstrated that effective arts engagement for youth at risk depends on:

  • facilitating a safe working space;
  • artists with appropriate teaching skills and a commitment to working with marginalised young people; and
  • creating publicly recognised artistic product and performances.

The main findings of the study have been published as a Drama Victoria monograph, Creative Interventions for Marginalised Youth: The Risky Business Project (2008) by Kate Donelan and Angela O'Brien.

The project also featured an international research symposium held at the University of Melbourne in October 2005. The proceedings of the symposium have been published by Cambridge Scholars Publishing, The Arts and Youth at Risk: Global and Local Challenges edited by Angela O'Brien and Kate Donelan.

Risky Business was funded through the Australian Research Council's Linkage scheme, and was undertaken by Melbourne University, in partnership with Arts Victoria, the Magistrates' Court of Victoria, VicHealth, Department of Justice and Department of Human Services.

The project received a Melbourne University Vice-Chancellor's Knowledge Transfer Award in 2007.