ACT Government Funds Dance Program to Boost First Nations Youth Health

ACT, Australia

The ACT Government has funded a dance and movement program aimed at improving First Nations youth health and wellbeing. The Stellar Step UP! Step Together program, run by not-for-profit The Stellar Company, is part of the government’s Healthy Canberra Grants program and will be delivered in partnership with Canberra First Nations contemporary dance group Project Dust.

The program, which includes intergenerational classes for Aboriginal young people across the ACT, aims to increase health and wellbeing outcomes by encouraging positive partnerships, body positivity, and increased social and community connection.

Minister for Population Health Emma Davidson said the program is an excellent way to support young First Nations people in staying connected to culture while practicing healthy habits. She added that the program helps address some of the barriers First Nations people face to live a healthy life, such as chronic and communicable diseases, infant health, mental health, and life expectancy.

As part of the grant, The Stellar Company also offers classes for multicultural and LGBTIQ+ young people and those with physical or intellectual disabilities. The funding was part of more than $1.5 million awarded in the 2023-24 to 2025-26 Healthy Canberra Grants: Focus on Supporting Healthy and Active Living for Children and Young People funding round.

The Yerrabi Yurwang Child and Family Aboriginal Corporation was also awarded funding from this grant round for its Yawarj Mara, Strong Pathways program. This program brings together Aboriginal young people from across the ACT to engage with culture and increase empowerment and wellbeing through song, dance, and sporting activities, mentoring, skills, and health education opportunities.

The Stellar Company’s Artistic Director, Liz Lea, said the program offers classes across five ACT suburbs for people of all abilities, backgrounds, and identities. Alongside Project Dust, they are proud to partner with a range of local dance and fitness businesses for the Stellar Step UP! Program.

Project Dust founder Emma Laverty, a proud Darug woman, said the ACT Health grant is helping to remove barriers for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families to spaces they don’t normally have access to and is getting them active and involved in the community.