To create an iconic arts and cultural institute that fosters the participation of disadvantaged Australians in the mainstream social, economic and cultural life of the nation. The School of Hard Knocks partners with leaders in the arts, education, health, corporate and welfare sectors to provide high quality arts, cultural and wellbeing programs for disadvantaged people, creating possible pathways to education and employment.



In 2006, Dr Jonathon Welch AM unveiled ‘The Choir of Hard Knocks’ to a national audience. This highly innovative social inclusion initiative was the subject of a five part series on ABC television. Around the world the Choir model has ignited the development of hundreds of choirs, including ‘street choirs’, dementia and aphasia choirs. These choirs have emulated the innovative and engaging model for re-connecting isolated members of their communities and building mental and physical well-being, confidence and self-esteem. Seeing the positive impact that the choir had on its members Dr Welch saw an opportunity to expand the concept and established the School of Hard Knocks in Melbourne in 2012. The School has now expanded to include programs nationally.


The School of Hard Knocks is built upon a philosophy of collaboration. Our programs are made possible and enriched through the generosity of our partners and supporters. The School is privileged to have the support of many leading organisations and individuals who share our commitment. Together, we provide opportunities to Australians who have experienced homelessness, disadvantage or have been marginalised or excluded socially, to engage in the arts and develop their skills, confidence and capacity to take new steps to advance their lives.