Focus on First Nations health through youth dance and movement


Canberra not-for-profit The Stellar Company is running dance and movement classes for First Nations communities, funded by the ACT Government’s Healthy Canberra Grants program, to improve health education, intergenerational support, and connection to country and culture.

The Stellar Step UP! Step Together program is delivered in partnership with Canberra First Nations contemporary dance group Project Dust as part of the grant to engage people and feature intergenerational classes for Aboriginal young people across the ACT.

It aims to increase health and wellbeing outcomes for young people in the ACT by providing a range of tailored dance and movement classes 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 stay connected to culture while practicing healthy habits.

“Stellar Step UP! delivers better health outcomes for our First Nations community. It supports healthy habits in childhood to keep people on their best developmental journey as they grow and reduce the risk of long-term disease later in life,” Minister Davidson said.

“Seeing this program delivered during NAIDOC week is a timely reminder to reflect on the experience of First Nations peoples’ experiences with the health system. They are more likely to face issues with chronic and communicable diseases, infant health, mental health and life expectancy.

“This program helps address some of the barriers First Nations people face to live a healthy life. It is led by First Nations people to maintain connection to country, culture and community.”

As part of the grant, The Stellar Company also offers classes for multicultural and LGBTIQ+ young people and those with physical or intellectual disability.

The Healthy Canberra Grants program is an initiative that supports the Healthy Canberra: ACT Preventive Health Plan 2020-2025, which seeks to improve the health of all ACT residents.

The Stellar Company funding was part of more than $1.5 million originally 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 to nine community organisations to deliver programs which support healthy eating and increased physical activity in children and young people.

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

Quotes attributable to Liz Lea, Artistic Director, The Stellar Company

“The Stellar Company is thrilled to be offering classes across five ACT suburbs for people of all abilities, backgrounds and identities. Alongside Project Dust, we are proud to partnering with a range of local dance and fitness businesses for the Stellar Step UP! Program, including Dance4Fitness, Mudra and Moves and Subsdance.

“There are seven series of classes being offered across 2024/25, with a total of 280 classes led by experienced teachers, and Stellar Step UP! is proving to be a deeply powerful and empowering program. As a small not-for-profit, we are thrilled to be working with the Healthy Canberra Grants team.”  

Quotes attributable to Emma Laverty, founder, Project Dust

“As a proud Darug woman, I have a strong interest in Aboriginal contemporary dance, language, and history. This 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.”