Tag Archives: Rachel Nixon

27. Amy Bryans

4 Apr

amy bryansEver heard that saying “children should be seen and not heard?” and stopped for a moment to contemplate what little relevance it holds in this day and age. It is already well known that Gen Y are the ones who will soon be taking over from the ‘Baby Boomers’ and fixing the mistakes made by those gone before us. This being the case the idea that children should “not be heard” makes no sense, as those belonging to Gen Y need to have their voices heard if we are to have any chance of making an impact on our world.

Meeting annually, YMCA in conjunction with the Victorian Parliament have created a program that does just that, giving  the youth of our generation a chance to speak out and have their voices heard. In a bid to improve the lives of Australia’s youths the YMCA Youth Parliament program gives those aged between sixteen and twenty five a chance to come together and vote for bills that they feel strongly about. In 2011 the amiable Amy Bryans participated in the program and was voted by her peers to be the Youth Premier.  She explains to me just how big an impact the program has made on her and what it offers for those wishing to join.

There is an unmistakable confidence brimming from this polite well-mannered young woman who has just emerged from a meeting at the Banyule Council where she is planning for a series of speaking engagements she will deliver in schools. Her warm personality makes her easy to talk to as we slip into the interview, in which she explains what first started her involvement in the Youth Parliament program. “I really wanted to gain leadership and experience” she says as she informs me of the YMCA camp that first brought the program to her attention.

Unlike some youth based programs, YMCA Youth Parliament requires a lot of time and dedication, “it take around six months to decide on the issues we want to bring to parliament” Bryans says, “after all the bills need to plausible in order for them to work.” There are around twenty teams that come together, the option of joining being entirely of one’s own volition, with groups from all sorts of schools, universities and scouts coming forward to take part in the program. “It gives people a chance to put their voice forward, and best of all you could have zero interest in politics and still have a great time.”

So what has this experience done for Amy? Already an outgoing character, she has seen Youth Parliament as an outlet to further explore her skills in leadership training. Now having already shouldered such a responsibility as Youth Premier she found the role not only “gave her something to do” but also gave her “somewhere to go”. Having become a part of Youth Parliament to gain leadership and experience she has found the program fulfilled all these hopes and expectations, teaching her how to handle responsibility and properly lead a group of young keen individuals, having allowed her to put her own voice and ideas forward.

Although she admits she never saw herself engaging in politics she is eager to return and further her skills. “This year I am a part of the Youth Parliament Taskforce on the Media and Communications Portfolio” she explains. When asked about her coming plans, “I hope to get lots of great media for the program” hoping to encourage more to come forward and participate. As well as this Bryans plans to further her love for theatre, “I hope to become a theatre director” she says, “I even returned to my old high school to assist in the school production.”

“I’d rather be busy than bored” she smiles “I have no problem doing a thousand things, it keeps my life interesting.” It’s no surprise that when asked about her life in high school she happily explains how she was school captain for year twelve, “I loved high school, I was always heavily involved.”

Crediting her love and inspiration for getting out and leading the public back to Youth Parliament she admits just how much it changed her life. “It inspired so much confidence in me, I was selected to develop my leadership skills and it’s really helped me grow as a person.” Now having such an ability with the public, when asked whether she values her reputation over speaking her mind her answer shows a level of sophistication and maturity one can only attribute to her experience with Youth Parliament. “When I was younger I would’ve said speaking your mind was more important, but now I think it’s more a balance between the two, and knowing how to interact with people.”

Coming from a family of divorced parents she explains how one shouldn’t let what happens around them be a product of who you are. Her family also run their own drama studio, which is what first inspired her desire to pursue a career in acting. “Working in performing arts” she says, “it makes life so interesting”.

She is a truly remarkable young woman who should serve as an inspiration to all who come into contact with her.

Words By:Rachel Nixon

Photo by: Sean Porter


24. Rudely Interrupted

28 Dec


In a local bakery in Northcote I await the arrival of Melbourne based band Rudely Interrupted who have just released their new EP Mystery Girl. Since their formation in 2006 the now four piece band has been attracting all the right attention, having been praised for their catchy rock music by many critics, claiming it to be ‘some of the most energetic and genuine music of our time’.  But for Rudely Interrupted it’s not about fame and living the high life. It’s about proving to the world that although all band members, minus manager Rohan Brooks, live with some form of disability truly anything is possible.

It’s a Monday morning, and this quaint little bakery is bustling by the time Rohan, Rory and Josh arrive. Once seated guitarist and lead singer Rory Burnside takes me through the difficulties of living with his Asperger syndrome as well as having been born blind with a cleft lip and palate. Despite these afflictions the affable young man’s warm personality strikes me as he informs me of their upcoming tour. Music is a very big part of Rory’s life and having completed a music performance degree at Box Hill Institute of TAFE Rudely Interrupted has clearly chosen the right person to front their band, creating music the singer describes as ‘Indie Rock’.  But like any band Rudely Interrupted didn’t happen overnight, in fact according to Brooks the band was only supposed to be “a short project.”

The band’s formation began back in 2006 when Brooks met fellow band mate Burnside at a barbeque. It was at this time that the professional musician and musical therapist asked Burnside if he’d like to start a band, already knowing of his amazing musical abilities. From there drummer Josh Hogan and bass player Sam Beke joined, both already acquainted with Brooks from a musical therapy class he had been running at the time. Like Rory both members live with their own form of disability.  Sam has down’s syndrome and Josh endured many complications at birth that left him with bones that have failed to fully develop, but don’t let it prevent them from creating music that pulls in the listener and showcases their musical talents. “Josh had never played drums before the band” Brooks tells me as he describes Rudely Interrupted’s early days. “It was a strict left, right hand diet” Hogan adds as he went about becoming accustomed to the drums, “but it’s paid off.”

The following years proved to be very eventful as the band went about writing their first songs and gaining exposure at their performances. Their first song ‘Don’t Break my Heart’ was written in 2007 and came about when Burnside asked ‘if it were possible to die from a broken heart.” After gigging around Australia, Rudely Interrupted where invited to perform at the UN for International Disability Day in 2008. “We ended up being bigger than Bono” Brooks smiles, recalling the time the band performed to their sold out audience, achieving the numbers the U2’s singer’s speech had failed draw.

Releasing their debut album ‘Tragedy of the Commons’ in 2010 and self titled documentary that was screened both nationally and internationally in 2009, Brooks is right in saying that it gave them a lot of exposure. “The documentary was about us working together and writing songs” he says, “getting behind the scenes.”

Despite all the success the band has so far been blessed with; Rohan still finds that Rudely Interrupted’s reputation as a disabled band puts them at a disadvantage. “We just want to be accepted like any other band” he explains “but we just don’t have the same opportunities in Australia as we do overseas. It’s a lot better for us over there.” The frustration is understandable, but Brooks knows just how special this band is. “It’s important for society to have bands like us, after all these guys have the hope, confidence and abilities.”

Aside from this Brooks states that “the growth in the band has band amazing” having toured overseas six times since first bringing their love of music to the world. However, like any band, they’ve witnessed some changes, having lost keyboard player Marcus and tamborine player Connie. Although the two still accompany the band for the occasional performance, Rudely Interrupted has not at all lost its amazing flare and ability to create lyrically inspiring songs. “As artists, we look for the differences in life” Brooks says as he describes the inspiration the band use to write their material, “it’s great to write about these guys lives, and it’s really shone through in Rory, he has some great talent in song writing.”

The band’s music really sets them apart from the sounds of pre teen pop that now dominate the radio. Brooks admits that their music is quite simple, but in doing so gives each member the chance to truly shine and they express their own personal experiences when it comes to living life with a disability.  “We do our best to keep it organic” Brooks explains, and with the amount of positivity Rudely Interrupted has received since first breaking the scene, it’s clearly a method that has worked in their favour.

Rudely Interrupted have been touring the country of late, bringing with them a new fresh, set of songs and that same raw passion the group share for music. Then the band leave home soil and head for Italy in the new year to promote their EP to overseas fans. An app has also been designed for the band to showcase their lives on tour and give fans a chance to learn a little more about what happens overseas.

It is really touching to hear Brooks say how he and his fellow band mates aren’t apart of Rudely Interrupted “purely for those egoistical reasons.”  This band gives Rory, Josh and Sam a purpose in life and a chance for the public to see that one is not in any way, shape or form limited by the disability they may live with.  “I get support from them” Brooks says, “after all we’re there to push each other and strive to be the best we can be. We really love it; and I don’t see why we can’t be just as successful as any other band.”

Words By:Rachel Nixon

Photo by: Sean Porter