Creating a healthier, better connected Gippsland.

Art therapy makes a difference in remote communities

“I wish more men would come to stuff like this. To let go of some things from the heart. I felt that tonight. I let some stuff go…”

Many people who lived through the devastating East Gippsland bushfires continue to deal with the aftermath, such as this Cann River man. For some, ‘talking therapy’ is not easy; expressing his feelings through art was different.

The Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) Victoria has just finished a free, six-week art therapy program for people aged over 18 years old in Cann River and Mallacoota. The program was funded by Gippsland Primary Health Network (Gippsland PHN) and delivered by a qualified art therapist with the support of two RFDS Victoria Outreach CARE workers.

By the end of the program, participants had created a range of expressive pieces of art through the use of MeCards, mandalas, a tree of self, poems, an animal totem, prayer beads, a journey image and a hand of gratitude. However the look of the final art piece was not important; art therapy is about the process of creating and what emerges from that experience.

RFDS Victoria Team Leader – Wellbeing Operations, Molly Stilo, said while RFDS had been providing mental health and wellbeing services in the region for five years, this was the first time the service had facilitated the delivery of art therapy.

‘Talking therapy’ is not suitable for everyone, according to Ms Stilo. “Some people express themselves in other ways. With art therapy, you don’t need to be good at art – it’s about helping people explore self-expression and, in doing so, finding new ways to gain personal insight and meaningful coping strategies.”

See the full media release here.Media release – Art therapy workshops in remote areas 09052021

Pictured below are some examples of the art produced.


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