Voice Lab

Voice Lab is a unique creative installation module for collecting the thoughts and opinions of children.

Voice Lab encourages reflective thought and the articulation of opinions and feelings. Voice Lab is curious and pays close attention to what children think, feel and say, enabling their ideas to be shared to make positive change. 

Voice Lab operates in two modes: the original physical mode and the newly-developed online version.

In the physical mode, children are invited one at a time into a beautifully designed, serene dome – entirely alone. In this space they have a conversation with Voice Lab – a voice driven by a concealed live performer that asks questions, encourages opinion and regards the child as the expert. In order for the physical mode to return to schools and communities, we have made a number of COVID-safe updates.

In response to COVID-19, Voice Lab’s online version offers children the opportunity to reflect on change and uncertainty, and to begin to process the pandemic’s impact on their sense of the world and themselves. In this period of isolation and disconnection it is vital that children have their voices heard and valued. Voice Lab shows children that no matter where they are or how alone they may feel, their voices can be heard and shared to make a difference.

For schools and communities using the online mode, we have created a lightweight, pop-up inflatable space that can be easily couriered from our headquarters in Abbotsford, VIC. It is quick and easy to set up – you simply unroll it, plug it in, and put a laptop inside. It has been designed to imbue the Voice Lab online experience with the otherworldliness and magic that the original dome offers. Children enter the pop-up space one at a time, and their conversation with Voice Lab takes place via Zoom through the laptop.

“Voice Lab is the best thing I have ever done, it made me feel like I was being heard.” 5678 Film Club participant, St. Joseph’s Primary School

Download the Voice Lab (physical mode) PDF brochure here (909KB).

Download the Voice Lab (online mode) PDF info sheet here (113KB)

Voice Lab can be used in myriad different ways. In 2020, it was used by the City of Booroondara to gather insights for its Children and Young People Action Plan. Voice Lab visited the Ashburton Library and the Hawthorn Arts Centre and spoke to children about their experience of living in the area. Voice Lab also travelled to Brisbane for the final stage of a project with Mission Australia’s Communities for Children, Inala to Ipswich. The project sought to discover what children would like to see in their community to make it the best it can be for children and young people. It gathered feedback on Mission Australia’s programs and provided insight to local schools about issues that concern children about their school experience.

Q: What do you think it means for people to feel connected?
A: It makes people feel like they have a place in this world and they are loved.

Satellite Foundation works with children, young people and their families in situations where a parent has mental illness. In 2019, the organisation used Voice Lab for two programs – at the Children’s Camp and at its annual Music and Songwriting Workshop, which Voice Lab also attended in 2018. The City of Greater Dandenong used Voice Lab at its annual Children’s Forum for the second year, where it spoke to local children about making their community happy, safe and healthy.

Part of the Melbourne Fringe XS program at ArtPlay in 2018, Voice Lab spoke to children about rules and the power dynamic between children and parents. It gathered feedback for the Connie Benn Centre in Fitzroy and spoke to Polyglot’s 5678 Film Club participants to generate new ideas for films. Voice Lab was also used by RedRoad Consulting for City of Port Phillip’s Adventure Playground upgrade consultation.

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