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Arts and Health - A Role for Local Government

Erich's presentation, from a local government perspective, will focus on the importance of engagement and participation in arts and culture as contributors to community connection, inclusion and wellbeing.

The Community and Cultural Development team at Penrith City Council had identified that a new way of engagement was required if Council was to continue to build strong connections with community partners and residents. Through a number of team workshops the capacity was extended across all function areas to utilise arts and cultural initiatives to engage, stimulate and build connections, contribute to wellbeing, and provide opportunities for fun and enjoyment.

The Penrith Cultural Framework and Cultural Development Action Plan adopted by Council in 2007 articulated a number of Council priorities and provided a strategic policy framework for many of the cultural initiatives in Penrith City. These initiatives have included projects with young people, older people, people of all abilities, Aboriginal families, as well as the broader community.

The presentation will highlight the critical contribution partnerships with community organisations have made to the engagement of Penrith City's residents in a range of cultural projects that have demonstrated major community benefit and positive health outcomes.

Erich WellerErich Weller

Erich has been at Penrith City Council for almost twenty years. He commenced employment as a Social Planner, then Community Programs Coordinator, and Manager from 2005. Erich also worked for a couple of years as an independent consultant in the areas of education policy and human services planning, as well as a high school teacher and Coordinator of Addison Road Community Centre in Marrickville for six years. Erich has contributed to the community and environmental sectors through a leadership role on a number of Boards and Management Committees.

Erich has a strong commitment to the communities of Western Sydney, social inclusion, and working with the government and community sector to achieve positive outcomes for local communities and residents. Erich has also led and coordinated the delivery of a number of community hubs in Penrith City including in Glenmore Park, the older established area of North St Marys, the St Marys Corner Community and Cultural Precinct and most recently working with Lend Lease to design and deliver the community hub in Jordan Springs.

Over recent years and together with team members Erich has led a transition which has enabled a local government community development service to adopt a more integrated community cultural development approach to project development and implementation. This has resulted in innovation in engagement with community partners and residents, enhanced connections, and contributed to community wellbeing and health.