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'Opening Doors' for teens

Opening Doors group photo

With close to 30,000 domestic violence incidents reported in NSW alone last financial year*, Tantrum Youth Arts is taking a strategic approach targeting prevention and early intervention through the rollout of an interactive performance that aims to inform and empower young people on the issues of domestic violence and sexting.

Opening its season today, Tantrum's Opening Doors theatre-in-education experience created in partnership with Co-operative Legal Service Delivery, will be performed to more than 2,000 year 10 students from schools across the Central Coast and Hunter region thanks to funding support from nib foundation.

This will be the third time students will have the opportunity to participate in this influential program following the success of a pilot in 2014. In a review of the 2014 performance, 91% of participating schools said that students' knowledge about domestic violence had increased after seeing the show.

During the performance, the audience will have the opportunity to ask questions and interact with the actors, as well as with a real solicitor and police officer that form part of the cast. There will also be counsellors and legal service providers on hand at the performances to provide assistance and information to students on how to manage abuse on a number of levels if the need arises.

Written and directed by Tantrum's Resident Teaching Artist, Tamara Gazzard, Opening Doors features local young professional actors employed by Tantrum.

"The play engages students in a unique and accessible way. It is interactive, so the students watching are encouraged to actively contribute to the play and problem-solve with the characters in the story. It's hoped that this will empower young people to seek appropriate information or help if they are experiencing similar issues in their own lives," Ms Gazzard said.

nib foundation Executive Officer, Amy Tribe, said Tantrum's Opening Doors initiative is a valuable tool in generating awareness among young people and taking action at a grassroots level.

"By educating young people about abuse, whether it be physical or emotional, we hope they become better able to identify cases of domestic violence and know the avenues available to seek help. It's also about empowering young people in the community to take action to stamp out violence rather than accepting this type of behaviour and turning a blind eye," Mrs Tribe said.

Opening Doors' season will feature 10 shows performed free of charge at the Newcastle Community Arts Centre over the next two months. Find out more about the program on the Tantrum website.

*Source: NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research