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Westside Circus Inc

Victorian youth using circus to change their world


Westside Circus is the only not-for-profit and charitable institute in Melbourne, dedicated to designing and delivering creative circus programs that increase the skills and confidence of young people (aged 3–25 from diverse social, economic and cultural backgrounds).

We focus on the personal development of participants, cultivating qualities such as open-mindedness, self-esteem, tolerance, respect, responsibility, autonomy, perseverance, self-confidence, resourcefulness, resilience, and awareness. These qualities are essential life skills; they are also basic requirements for work-readiness across all industries. We establish long-term partnerships across youth services and schools working with disadvantaged youth to help them achieve recognised qualifications.

Your generosity donating to Westside Circus will mean that you are supporting young people in your community, for example:

  • $30 subsidises young people with disabilities to join in classes that are catered to the individual needs of participants
  • $50 helps to provide circus related curriculum materials to schools and/or bilingual reading material to libraries
  • $100 hires a bus to pick up a group of young people and bring them to a circus arts workshop at Preston.
  • $200 contributes to a circus kit (a range of equipment) for small groups based in community centres.
  • $300 will provide an underprivileged young person access to our circus program for a full term.
  • $400 will support maintaining and repairing circus equipment for our access, public, community programs.

Donations to Westside will be used to support our community programs and for general program livelihood.

Funds donated will go towards the program deliver of engaging, developing and coordinating the program. A percentage of funds will go towards Circus Trainer wages and space hire.

How will the funds be used?

Through actively emphasising transferable skills that are inherent in circus (i.e. trusting peers in exercises like doubles trapeze or understanding persistence and breaking down stages of learning through juggling) Westside Circus gives young people the confidence, creativity and autonomy required to become change makers, and make a positive contribution to their community.

We are unique among our peer youth arts organisations in that we have established ongoing international partnerships. In conjunction with companies in Sweden, Cambodia, South Korea, Turkey, Brazil and the UK, we offer young artists, including people living with a disability and those experiencing mental health challenges, opportunities to experience different cultures, build friendships with young people from around the world and learn new ways of being creative. After hosting 30 young people in Darebin in 2017, there have been cultural youth exchanges to Cambodia and UK, with another confirmed exchange to Turkey in January 2020. These partnerships also provide volunteer opportunities, capacity building, and job shadow exchanges between UK, Sweden and Cambodia, in which we have acted as both host and beneficiary. We have provided three young and emerging artists the opportunity to live and work in Sweden for 6 months.

Support Westside Circus and you are supporting social inclusion in the wider community, inclusiveness and creativity!

The current community projects we are seeking support for include: 

Pages Fly is an early learning and literacy program that uses social circus and the creation of children’s’ storybooks to support newly arrived/refugee communities to develop language skills, build community and celebrate diversity. In partnership with Local Councils and playgroups, we combine circus, storytelling, social and literacy activities with a strong community learning approach that enables participants to grow in confidence and become actively involved in building their own child friendly community. The project has an immediate, educational and social impact on young children and their families recently settled into Melbourne through circus activities and the publication of children’s books written and illustrated by the project participants.

MY Circus, a mixed ability Youth Circus program, champions a more inclusive creative community through increased opportunities for young people with disabilities to access skill development in circus and creative expression. The program responds to two identified issues; young people with disabilities lack opportunities for creative physical activities, and young people with disabilities have a lot to offer to the development of contemporary creative practices. The program offered at Westside Circus addresses these issues by ensuring the activities available are accessible to young people with disabilities and those without and providing a vehicle to explore and give voice to the ideas and experiences of participants. The involvement of families and friends in the workshop processes strengthens social connection and builds community and support networks. The presentation of public performance outcomes builds recognition of achievements and develops a greater support in audiences for the art created.

Altitude: Pavilion uses circus and performance making as a tool to address issues experienced by young people disengaged from education, and the impact this has on them finding and retaining employment. The project utilises the risk-taking nature of circus and its appeal to young people at risk of disengaging from education through strengthening educational programs of partners by embedding physical literacy and kinaesthetic learning activities within them, offering creative and physical opportunities that may otherwise be unavailable and providing access to the circus and performing arts industries.

Altitude: Shepparton supports disengaged youth in one of Victoria’s regional hotspots of youth unemployment and school drop-out rates. It is a long term project that brings together Shepparton youth, CALD communities, police, schools, arts and service organisations. The program uses circus activities to support young people in newly arrived and refugee communities who are disengaged or at risk of disengaging from education and/or support networks to develop pathways to a positive, active future. Through harnessing the creative potential of a diverse range of young people we aim to inspire disengaged and at-risk youth to build social cohesion and break down the barriers that exist to between CALD communities and legal, education and housing support systems. 

Circus Sisi Wote is a two year project increasing capacity of 6-15 year olds from the African community in Shepparton. Named by participants based on a Swahili phrase meaning all together, the project builds impact through a stepped progression of short and medium term outcomes focused on increased health and wellbeing, acceptance, and feeling valued and capable. Involving not only the young people and circus artists, it will also engage family members, local African artists and other young people and families from the Shepparton community. Drawing on 22 years of social circus practice Westside Circus will use circus and performance as tools; supporting participants to become change-makers, capable and inspired to shape their own healthy futures and build cohesive communities.

Under, Over, All Around uses circus to assist social, physical and language development for young Deaf children in Foundation and Grade 1 at Furlong Park School for Deaf Children. Project activities will support students learning prepositions of location (i.e. under, over, around), and culminating in skills sharing with residents of a local aged care home. These activities will assist in laying the foundations necessary for a successful life of education and employment for young deaf students now and in the future, together with positively representing ability and diversity in the wider Brimbank community.



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Contact Details

41 Cramer St - Building Q PO Box 516


Are donations tax deductible?


Will I receive a receipt for my donation?

Yes, when Westside Circus Inc is able