Calling out to health and welfare professionals, managers, community workers, artist practitioners and others working in the fields of public health, mental health and drug and alcohol services: seeking your interest, support and ideas about Arts and Health: March 2016

Background

The arts and health movement is well established in the UK and the States (where there is a substantial body of research evidence about how arts practices impact both clinical and wellbeing outcomes). Within Australia there is growing interest in this field. In 2014, the Standing Council on Health and the Meeting of Cultural Ministers released the National Arts and Health Framework (http://mcm.arts.gov.au/national-arts-and-health-framework).

This framework was developed to enhance the profile of arts and health in Australia and to promote greater integration of arts and health practice and approaches into health promotion, services, settings and facilities.

In that document, arts and health refers to the practice of applying arts initiatives to health problems and health promoting settings. It involves all art firms and may be focused at any point in the health care continuum. It also has an impact on the determinants of ill-health by changing individual attitudes to health risks and [in] supporting community resilience.

Benefits can accrue for all stakeholders including government, health service providers, artists, those in health care and the wider community and include improved communication, better understanding, attitudinal change and clinical outcomes.

At a state level, in October 2016, a Health and the Arts Taskforce was appointed to advise the Minister for Health Jillian Skinner on the development of a framework to integrate health and the arts across the NSW public health system (http://www.health.nsw.gov.au/arts/pages/default.asp). The public consultations are near completion and a final report is expected in the next couple of months.

New alliances within the cultural arts and health care sectors

South East Arts NSW Inc (SE Arts) is a regional arts and cultural development organisation covering the Bega Valley, Bombala, Cooma-Monaro, Eurobodalla and Snowy River Shires. It actively supports the ongoing development of, and participation in arts and culture through the NSW South East Region.

SE Arts has recently developed a relationship with Southern NSW Local Health District (SNSWLHD) and commenced discussions about the role of arts and creative process in delivering beneficial health and wellbeing outcomes across a number of the District’s many service sectors and program areas including hospitals, community health centres, multi-purpose services, mental health and drug and alcohol services. The SNSWLHD adopts a health promotion approach to enable groups and communities to increase their control over and improve their health. It also aims to influence the living conditions (and experiences) that create good health for communities.

Developing an Arts and Health regional strategy

For the next couple of months, I am working with SE Arts to create an Arts Health regional strategy (for its five constituent shires that form part of the broader SNSWLHD catchment area). The draft strategy and three year action plan will:

  • Guide the development of initiatives in the arts and health sector
  • Identify ways for regional arts professionals to collaborate in the delivery of projects and activities that are intended to deliver important health and wellbeing outcomes.

Mapping the field of interest and possibility

As part of the development of this draft strategy, I would like to talk with a range of people in the health, welfare, arts and community development fields to get a (quick and beginning) sense of:

  • What are the key health priority needs where arts can have a positive impact?
  • Examples of arts and health initiatives that are occurring on the ground now?
  • What kinds of arts and health programs or activities are you aware of (locally, interstate or in other countries) that would be great to either introduce, expand, modify
  • What excites you?
  • How SE Arts could help make this happen!

We would love to hear your thoughts – either by phone or email (and personally if that is possible given constraints of time/distance) – by the 24th March 2016.

Kerry Devine
Consultant
M: 0408 517 236
E: kerrydevine29@gmail.com

Andrew Gray
General Manager/Regional Arts
Development Officer
South East Arts
M: 0429 909 447
E: agray@southeastarts.org.au