Environment Breaking down the walls with sound

Breaking down the walls with sound

Ever drifted off to the gentle rhythm of waves lapping against a calm shore?

Soothing sounds may do more than help us sleep, according researchers at Griffith University.

Acoustic recordings of natural environments, human breathing, heartbeat, footsteps and voices may offer a new way to empower women in prison trying to get their lives back on track.

A project conducted at Brisbane Women’s Correctional Centre used soundscapes to help Indigenous women re-connect with their culture and improve their health and well-being.

Researcher and Gunggari woman from southwest Queensland, Vicki Saunders, says the recordings gave the women an opportunity to focus on life outside prison and the skills required to live it well.

“The soundscape of a prison has to be felt to be understood,” she says.

“But this project was about listening to the country that’s central to our wellbeing, that’s always speaking to us.

“In Gunggari language, the word for listening, Yimbaya, also means respect and when you’re listening, respect is automatically there.”

The women edited and recorded many of the sounds themselves during the two-year pilot project, Listening to Country, conducted jointly with the Queensland Conservatorium and Queensland College of Art.

Researchers are now exploring how it could be adapted to benefit other at-risk groups, including young people and seniors.

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