Back to top

From the desk of Dr. Emma O’Brien PhD – May/June 2015

20 July 2015

Welcome to a bumper newsletter reflecting on a very busy May and June 2015, not only for the Institute but also for the Arts and Health sector in general. We are aware that many of you will have submitted to the Senate Inquiry. The Institute for Creative Health is committed to supporting the voice of community arts and health projects/groups who strive to support the health and wellbeing of participants and audiences. To this end we have submitted a paper to the inquiry on the vital role that the arts, and small/medium arts based companies play in the health and wellbeing of all Australians. Our position for this paper is in line with The Institute’s vision.

“Our vision is for a Creative and Healthy Australia – a nation of people who actively participate in the arts because we all understand them to be fundamental to everyday life, a place where the arts are accessible and valued across platforms”

Vale Mike White – Sad news also came in June with the death of UK Arts and Heath pioneer and philosopher Mike White. Many of you would have met Mike over the years at the Arts and Health Conferences. I personally knew Mike through these events and I always enjoyed his reflections on practice, his dry sense of humour, and I appreciated his extensive experience in the area. We have two moving tributes in this newsletter from Dr. Clare Hooker, Medical Humanities UNSW and one of The Institute’s Board Director Helen Zigmond.

We are pleased to announce the Victorian, Western Australian and New South Wales Leadership Groups and their Inaugural Chairs have been selected and we anticipate that they will commence meeting in August. Tasmania, Queensland and South Australia leadership groups will be announced end of July. Each group will be linked in to the community through this newsletter as well and I look forward to hearing what’s happening via this space and our state specific webpages, which you will be able to be accessed through our home page.

In this edition we also have a feature story from Churchill Fellow Olwen Milford on her work and achievements she gained through the program, as a our guest blogger/reporter, and a first of our new ‘Who’s Who at The Institute?’ with a story on long time Director Claude Gauchet. Our practice based feature is on the recent Sydney Symphony Orchestra Fellows ongoing project in Nowra Prison, NSW.

The Institute has begun two new projects in partnership with Westfund Health Insurer NSW Lithgow, both currently in exploratory phases, and we are enjoying building relationships with the local community, meeting established support groups, music groups, visiting the local hospital, even doing a gig in the local pub! We are working closely with the community and Westfund to engage in music projects in palliative care across the age span and also in self expression and empowerment projects with young women at risk. I look forward to providing more updates as things progress.

Our Director of Special Projects Maz McGann ran a National Arts and Health Framework workshop in conjunction with the wonderful team in the Rural Health Alliance in Darwin in May for the National Rural Health Conference and we include her review and reflections on the conference with this newsletter too.

As always we are keen to hear your stories ( and we have complied a list of upcoming events for you. Here is one of our Ambassadors, Robyn Archer’s recent address at the Arts Hub Conference.