Desert Pea Media

Desert Pea Media
Desert Pea Media

You've just turned 21, fresh out of university and want to unite your country.

What do you do?

Faced with the same question, Toby Finlayson picked up a microphone, a video camera and headed to indigenous communities in northern NSW. Within the short space of a year he'd set up Desert Pea Media, a community arts organisation aimed at inspiring and empowering young indigenous communities.

With the help of his colleague Matthew Priestley, Desert Pea Media has now been running for eight years and is considered one of the best indigenous programs in the country. Ask those involved and they'll tell you it's about laying down rhymes, putting together a beat and telling a story. In simple terms, Toby has brought hip hop and rap to the indigenous youth throughout Australia.

He's given a voice to those who struggled to be heard. He's brought the marginalised onto centre stage and had their stories and songs performed in the Opera House, at the 2010 ARIA Awards and blasted through mainstream radio stations.

While others have struggled to keep kids in the classroom, those taking part in the Desert Pea program have a 70 per cent higher attendance rate at school. In the process of producing the rap videos, Toby empowers them to learn about storytelling, language, video production and opens their eyes to the fact they're capable of anything. The social change this has brought about is both remarkable and inspiring.

We all set ourselves goals, but Toby's is bigger than most. "The dream is to unite my country. It's not only about the kids today but their kids to come." In doing everything in his power to make this come true, he's bringing to life the dreams of those all around him.

Click here to find out more information on Toby and Desert Pea Media.