Choices Applied Theatre Project

What is Choices?

Since 1999, CQCM and the Mackay Crime Prevention Unit of the Queensland Police Service, and other government and community agencies, have delivered Choices, an applied theatre project, to over 2500 secondary students annually. Using a music theatre format of comic skits, songs and dance which promotes key safety messages and education around alcohol, drugs, road safety, domestic violence and sexual activity for young people, it has been recognised as the Australian Financial Review Community Engagement project of the year (2017), and the Business HE Round Table Award for Best Community Engagement (2013). Performed, directed and choreographed by Bachelor of Theatre students, the Choices project tours secondary schools throughout central and north Queensland with funding from various community and government partners.

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History of the Choices applied theatre project

Choices is a continuing applied theatre project that was established by staff and students of CQUniversity in 1999 in conjunction with several Queensland State Government agencies (Alcohol Tobacco and Other Drugs Service (ATODS) and Sexual Health and Sexual Assault Service, Queensland Health; Crime Prevention Unit, Queensland Police Service; Department of Communities and Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads) and with input from the Queensland Ambulance Service and the Whitsunday Schoolies Advisory Committee (Whitsunday Regional Council). It addresses the risk-taking activities of young people celebrating the completion of Year 12 in the collective celebration known as ‘Schoolies'.

The program grew out of a need to effectively deliver important health, safety and legal messages to Year 12 students before they embark on their Schoolies celebrations. It is also an important adjunct to school drug education programs as it specifically targets key safety and legal messages around alcohol, drugs, and sexual activity with respect to young people aged 17-18.

The Choices Applied Theatre project is run by a select group of CQUniversity Bachelor of Theatre students who write, direct, and choreograph a 45-minute music and drama presentation – using comic skits, songs and dances – based on well-known movie and TV themes and weaving them around the key safety messages relevant for Year 12 students. The student directors of Choices, mentored by the full-time faculty in the theatre program at CQUniversity Australia, lead two teams of student performers through the rehearsal process and subsequent tours to high schools in Central and North Queensland. These students work over several months writing, rehearsing and performing Choices, which includes over 30 key health, safety and legal messages, and which are updated each year in line with current government campaigns.

The production is taken "on the road" and delivered at all participating high schools within the Mackay Health Service District, Townsville Health District and, for the first time in 2012, to Bundaberg. The two main teams of CQUniversity student performers (22 in total) embark on a two-week tour of high schools in Mackay, Bowen, Proserpine, Sarina, Moranbah, Mirani, Dysart, Clermont, Townsville, Ayr, Ingham, Charters Towers and Bundaberg during November. Approximately 3000 Year 12 students attended Choices across 28 secondary schools (14 in Mackay district, 2 in Bundaberg and 12 in Townsville) in North and Central Queensland in 2012, the largest tour since the start of the Choices project. The 2013 tour included schools in the Rockhampton and Yeppoon regions. In 2014 Choices was performed for the first time in far north Queensland, with performances in Abergowie, Tully, Innisfail, Herberton and Malanda as well as performances throughout Mackay, Sarina, Bowen, Ayr, Charters Towers and Townsville.

Choices has been performed annually since 1999, performing to over 2500 Year 12 students every year.