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Arts and Health Australia

Plenary Speakers

Janet Morrison

Janet MorrisonUnlocking Creative Older Age

The UK Campaign to End Loneliness has been using research to raise awareness of the impact of loneliness on health; lacking social connections is a comparable risk for early death as smoking 15 cigarettes a day and has a worse impact than obesity and lack of exercise. By highlighting this risk we also illuminate the impact of not addressing loneliness early enough.

The argument for prevention is that acting sooner saves money later, before needs become more complex and costly. But the ethos of prevention needs to be founded on a person centred philosophy which enables people to have choice and control, fosters reciprocity and the exchange of skills and which goes beyond a clinical model of ageing which assumes that social care or health interventions are the only answer. We need a more rounded approach which of course includes personal care, befriending and circles of support but which also considers faith and spirituality, active ageing and fitness, learning, volunteering and enjoyment of music and the arts.


Jerril Rechter

Jerril RechterArt for everyone, everywhere, all the time

In September 2014 VicHealth released the next steps in its arts and health journey. Building on our past achievements in the arts we are now moving into a bold new era. Through our Active Arts Strategy we will bring two sets of health benefits together by promoting people’s mental and physical wellbeing through active and participatory engagement with the arts.


Mike White

Mike WhiteThe Empirical Highway or the Lantern Road?

Arts in health is at a fork in the road. The hard-paved route, The Empirical Highway, leads to probable damnation by way of austerity culture, a narrowing definition of accredited practice, and evidence calls that are signalled through a medical model of health. Those who venture on this path will find their creativity randomised, controlled and trialled. The other route, which I term The Lantern Road, tracks its progress through reflective practice, has lit beacons of new traditions in participatory health promotion, and affirms relationship-based working as the way to a sustainable vision of community-based arts in health supported by inter-disciplinary research.


Liss Gabb

Liss GabbThe Art of Empathy

cohealth Arts Generator is a division of leading health provider cohealth. Newly formed cohealth brings together three community health centres serving vulnerable communities in northern, western and inner suburbs of Melbourne. cohealth Arts Generator works in partnership with marginalised individuals and communities who experience limited access to arts and cultural opportunities. Through participatory arts practice cohealth Arts Generator aims to improve health and wellbeing, and increase agency by unlocking creative potential and building connections to the broader community.

In this presentation cohealth Arts Generator's Coordinator, Liss Gabb will present three innovative case studies that support the development of empathy in the art-maker and in the art-viewer.


Christine Bryden

Christine BrydenCome Dance with Me

Come Dance with Me is a new dance program, which was launched by Alzheimer’s Australia Queensland as part of Dementia Awareness Month this year. The weekly class in Brisbane is designed to empower people with dementia to participate in their community while engaging in social and physical activity.

The purpose is to give people with dementia the opportunity to do something they love and simply move to the music. It is an activity that a person with dementia can share with their supporter, bringing joy, fun and laughter. Movement to music, as a physical and social activity, has positive body and brain health benefits for both people with dementia and their family and friends.


Sam Porter

Sam Porter Science, the Arts and Palliative Care: bridging the two cultures

55 years ago, the author and scientist CP Snow coined the phrase ‘the two cultures’, referring to the chasm that existed between the sciences and the arts. Snow’s solution to this problem was for the arts to concede to the progressive power of science. This drew a furious response from the literary critic FR Leavis, who regarded the arts as containing the essence of Western culture. The debate rumbles on, not least in relation to healthcare. Should the arts be subjected to the rigours of scientific evaluation or should they stand independently as the guardians of human creativity? Referring to the work he has done in relation to palliative care, Sam will argue for a pragmatic approach to this continuing conundrum.


Helen Currier

Helen Currier Arts and Health at Texas Children’s Hospital, Houston

Texas Children’s Hospital is the largest pediatric facility in the United States and has garnered widespread recognition for its expertise and breakthrough developments in the treatment of congenital heart disease, cancer, diabetes, asthma, HIV and premature babies.

This presentation will review the strategic development of arts and health policy and practice at Texas Children’s Hospital and provide insights into making arts and health programs an integral part of a major hospital in the USA.

Helen will profile the Hospital’s commitment to develop a child-centred environment that engages young patients’ creativity in the service of recovery and to bring together a community of support that extends throughout Houston and to other parts of the world.


Molly Carlile and Kerrie Noonan

Molly Carlile
Kerrie Noonan

Dying to Know Day; a small idea that became a national day for meaningful conversations

The arts and health framework provides a potent social change paradigm, particularly in the case of topics that are at the fringe or taboo. Talking about ageing, illness and the end of life are some of these taboo topics that are often put in the too hard or too difficult basket.

This session will reference two films addressing the topics of end of life, legacy and meaning through storytelling narratives. One, through the eyes of young people the other in an acute Cancer hospital.


Clive Parkinson

Clive ParkinsonA Recoverist Manifesto

Over the last two years people affected by substance addiction in the UK, Italy and Turkey have been exploring their recovery through the visual arts. As part of this process, people have participated in a programme of cultural exchange and worked with contemporary artists from the three countries to understand differences, similarities and frustrations. This process produced a number of workshops and exhibitions, a symposium that brought everyone together in Manchester, and an evaluation of the impact of the activity on wellbeing.


Simone Flavelle

Simone FlavelleUnlocking Imagination through Art and Technology/stARTSPEAK

In 2011 tablet technology was becoming more widely used by the general population but people living in supported accommodation were at risk of being digitally excluded. DADAA and the Disability Services Commission recognized this as a key challenge in their partnership work around the social inclusion of Western Australians with intellectual disability and high support needs.


Andy Howitt

Andy Howitt ABCD All Boys Can Dance

ABCD is an energetic and dynamic dance program that fills a crucial gap in the youth and dance sectors being the provision of equitable dance training and education for young men. We will fill this gap through a layered approach. Working with over 2,500 boys in 2015 through dance workshops delivered across +100 primary and secondary schools in metropolitan and regional Victoria, we will create a program of quality dance experiences for young men across the state. This will include professional development workshops for dance educators/instructors in teaching dance for young men to build capacity and capability within the sector.


Ann O'Connor

Ann O'ConnerThe Edge Effect – Arts and Health Practice and Policy in Ireland

The term edge effect describes diversity of life in the region where the edges of two adjacent ecosystems overlap. In her presentation, Ann will describe the development of arts and health practice in the Republic of Ireland and explore the characteristics of this distinct & continually evolving space between the edges of arts and health. In particular, Ann will focus on the Arts Council’s role in the development of practice and policy in this dynamic area.