It’s been over a year since bushfires devastated the Corryong area, leaving an aftermath of personal hardship and adversity. The long term mental health effects are prevalent for all, particularly amongst primary and secondary students who are vulnerable to traumatic events.

That’s why local organisations, health services, schools and artists are working together to support the Corryong community through a community-based arts project titled ‘My Home, My Place.’

The project is being facilitated by a group of health and education professionals from Corryong Health, Albury Wodonga Health, Gateway Health, Creative Recovery Network, Towong Shire, Bushfire Recovery Victoria, Regional Arts Victoria, Catholic Education Sandhurst, NSW Department of Education, Corryong Neighbourhood House, Beyond Blue’s Bushfire Response Program and The Royal Children’s Hospital’s Festival of Healthy Living.

Over the course of four days, four local primary and high schools will participate in a range of creative workshops facilitated by local artists from the Corryong, Walwa, Cudgewa, Albury and Wodonga areas.

Workshops include visual arts, cartooning, drama, circus, drumming and rhythm, script writing, sound scaping, cartooning and shadow puppetry.

“The power of art to help process trauma and achieve healing should not be underestimated,” explained John Lane, Artistic Director of The Royal Children’s Hospital Festival of Healthy Living.

“Some art forms enable individuals to deal directly with emotional issues, whereas others allow the development of persistence and positive self-talk. The activities explore mental health issues in creative, solution focused, and interesting ways.”

Along with providing an opportunity for children to express their emotions through a range of meaningful art forms, feedback will be used to inform future recovery planning, and ascertain the community’s interest in adopting similar arts-based recovery strategies.

 “Bushfire recovery for children is incredibly important, however we often find that they are overlooked because they don’t have a big voice in recovery,” said Corryong Health’s Director of Community Services, Vicki Pitcher.

“Giving children tools to understand and cope with their emotional responses is one of the most important aspects of recovery and healing. Undertaking this important work whilst fostering meaningful arts, health and education partnerships makes this project particularly special,” Ms Pitcher said.

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