The Sound Practice Project answered the call from the government-commissioned Strong Report (2005) for the development and implementation of the first-ever national occupational health and safety policies and practices for orchestral musicians. A team of University of Sydney academics led by Dr Bronwen Ackermann, Professor Dianna Kenny and Professor Tim Driscoll received substantial additional funding from the Australia Research Council Linkage Scheme ($735,000) to boost the cash and in-kind contributions from the Australia Council for the Arts and the eight major orchestras of Australia to allow a truly comprehensive project to be undertaken – the first of its kind internationally. With the recent introduction of the new harmonised Work Health and Safety Act (2012), the information from this study will assist in the development of guidelines for work health and safety within the orchestral environment.
The Sound Practice Project was a five-year study involving baseline evaluation, development and implementation of musician-specific work health and safety initiatives in response to the recommendations of the Strong Report (2005). Firstly, a cross-sectional population-based physical and psychological health survey and a physical assessment were conducted concurrently followed by an auditory health assessment. A baseline evaluation was required to establish a national database of the physical and psychological characteristics of the musicians so that further assessments and interventions could be targeted to specifically meet the needs of Australian orchestral musicians. The first series of evaluations comprised a self-report survey that evaluated demographics information, pain profiles and physical and psychological characteristics of the musicians as well as a thorough physical examination completed by a team of trained and experienced physiotherapists Australia-wide.