Toby Finlayson is Empowering Young People through Storytelling



Toby Finlayson started Desert Pea Media in 2002 when he was just 19 years old, studying theatre media at Charles Sturt University. The staff at CSU supported his venture and it evolved over the course of a decade through its work with communities. Now a registered charity, all of Desert Pea Media’s work revolves around mentoring projects in regional and remote indigenous communities.

“We’re trying to empower young people to make social change through collaborative storytelling,” Toby said. One of Desert Pea Media’s goals is to act as a response to the effects of generational trauma, including low life expectancy, high rates of unemployment, suicide, incarceration, isolation and substance abuse.


In a time of social transformation & uncertainty, young people and cultural knowledge holders from the Kakadu region in the NT are speaking up strongly about country & culture. The recent closure of the infamous Ranger Uranium Mine and consequent handover of local town Jabiru’s administration to local organisations has triggered a tumultuous time. Young people and families are impacted due to changes in economic stability and employment opportunities as the community’s future is redefined. 4Corners recently did an in-depth look at the issues in Kakadu, which have brought a lot of attention to the region.

Engaged by local agency Red Lily Health, Desert Pea Media worked with local people from Kakadu to produce a creative response to these changes.

“Our unique collaborative storytelling process creates a safe and non-confrontational space for community members to reflect on local social and cultural issues, and explore solutions and responses. This is set against an engaging, and energising creative framework - with outcomes that the entire community can be inspired by, and proud of.” - Toby Finlayson, Desert Pea Media CEO/Creative Director Desert Pea Media releases new song and short film: THE MAYALI PROJECT : from Kakadu, NT. DPM presents the debut single ‘Mayali’ from The Mayali Project, by Kakadu Collective & Victor Rostron. Co-Directed by Wurrban (clan group) songman and artist, Victor Rostron, and DPM Creative Director Toby Finlayson, this fusion hip hop / traditional / dub reggae song features one of the ancient songlines of the Mimih Dreaming.