TALES TO TELL: Members of The Soldier’s Wife program visit Roma on Thursday as part of their regional Queensland tour.
TALES TO TELL: Members of The Soldier’s Wife program visit Roma on Thursday as part of their regional Queensland tour. Blake Antrobus

Songwriting through family’s eyes in Soldier’s Wife program

WHILE the returning soldiers have grizzly tales to tell of their service overseas, their wives and children have their own tales to tell.

As the Soldiers Wife project makes its way through south-west Queensland, Roma families of servicemen and ex-servicemen were given the opportunity to present their stories to the public.

The program involves a group of songwriters from across the country – many from Queensland – travelling to regional communities to visit the wives and children of ex-servicemen.

The Soldier’s Wife project spent three days last week with a small group of students ranging from Years 9-12, allowing students to perform with them last Saturday evening at the Cultural Centre.

Together they gathered and analysed stories from students and staff, writing and producing the music and lyrics.

Members of the Soldier’s Wife project, Deb Suckling and Roz Pappalardo, said the group aimed to unpack the emotional stories held by these people and turn them into song.

“It’s like music therapy in a way; some people have even called us social workers with guitars,” Deb said.

Started in 2014, the program has performed in numerous locations across Queensland, including Cairns, Townsville, Chinchilla and Brisbane, with live performances at the Brisbane Powerhouse and sold-out performances at the Sydney Opera House and Canberra Street Theatre.

Ms Suckling said it was about bringing public awareness of the effects of post traumatic stress disorder on families to communities.

“We want to bring awareness about the effect that PSTD has on the family life, especially women and children, and give people a method of channelling their stories into song,” she said.

“Some people may actually be affected by generational service; so they feel the effects through their grandparents or their fathers.”

With the Anzac legend playing a vital role in Australian life, Ms Pappalardo said there was a growing interest to hear the stories told in regional Australia.

“We love hearing from regional communities with real character, like Roma, and how open and welcoming people are to conversation,” she said.

“We struck up conversation with a person at the caravan park, and he told us about his father’s PTSD; people can be very open and trusting when the opportunity is present.”


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