Kimba’s Fusion Festival engages youth via Heywire program

Community stories: 29 February 2024

The Kimba district was among the hardest hit by the destructive rain and floods of January 2022, which battered most of regional South Australia. Our Town Kimba (OTK) is a community-led initiative dedicated to enhancing community resilience in the face of mental health and wellbeing challenges. Acknowledging the necessity for heightened community engagement following the floods, particularly with local youth, OTK leveraged the FRRR ABC Heywire Youth Innovation Grant program to connect effectively with young individuals and empower them to lead a project within their town.

In collaboration with local high school students, OTK explored the 2022 Heywire Project Ideas, ultimately selecting the Fusion Festival idea as a resonant and beneficial initiative for local youth and the community. Fusion Festival posed the question of how to raise cultural awareness and stop racism in regional communities. OTK provided mentorship to the students throughout the grant application process, successfully securing a $10,000 to create their own community fusion festival, bringing together the tastes of Kimba to be shared through food, culture, dance and live music.

Kimba’s Fusion Festival was a youth-led, hands on experience from the very start. During the planning stages of the Festival, youth were given the opportunity to cultivate skills in event management. The project engaged mentors, educators and community members to guide the process and support the youth throughout.

The Festival, which was held in October 2023, had a profound impact on the 201 school students, kindergarten attendees and staff. Commencing with Indigenous cultural sharing, the day featured a diverse array of cultural experiences and activities, fostering conversations, learning and an appreciation for cultural diversity, all of which positively influenced individuals on personal and community levels. The Festival extended into the night, attracting over 300 people from the broader community. The lively atmosphere, diverse entertainment and communal meals contributed to a profound sense of belonging, pride and community unity.

Beyond providing a platform for cultural exchange, the Fusion Festival facilitated opportunities for local businesses, volunteers and community members to come together. The positive experiences shared during the Festival cultivated ongoing relationships, community pride and strengthened the sense of place.

The grant not only supported the realisation of the Fusion Festival but also served as an opportunity to model a youth-led project in the community, highlighting the substantial value young people bring to creating a resilient and vibrant community.

The Fusion Festival was honoured at the Kimba District Council’s 2024 Australia Day Awards as the Community Event of the Year, recognising the significant impact and lasting positive influence it had on the community.