Media Release

Over 100 performers will showcase the connection between art and health

07 May 2015

A vast array of performers and exhibitors will showcase their talents in the Arts and Health program at the 13th National Rural Health Conference in Darwin, 24-27 May 2015. With performances spread across the three days, this is the largest Arts and Health program ever staged at the National Rural Health Conference. The connection between creative endeavour and wellbeing is well established and the Conference program reflects how art is increasingly a part of rural and remote health initiatives.

To take advantage of the rich and vibrant culture of the Northern Territory, the Conference's Arts and Health program will have two streams: the Northern Territory Indigenous Arts and Health Showcase; and Being Well: Creative engagement with Arts and Health. The first of these is being sponsored by the Arts and Health program of the Australian Government’s Regional Arts Fund in partnership with the Northern Territory Government. Each stream will consist of performances, exhibitions and dedicated concurrent sessions. There will be a bus trip to the Child Australia Out of School Hours Service to see how creative activities are a part of daily life.

Delegates at the Conference will have a smorgasbord of events and performances to choose from. They can yarn with Shellie Morris, renowned NT Singer/Songwriter and Fred Hollows Foundation Ambassador, about her work - through song - to help Indigenous people to live longer, healthier lives. They could also choose to take part in the pandanus weaving workshop with the Gunga Weavers from Arnhem Land and make a mat, basket, dilly bag or fish trap using pandanus leaves which have been dried, stripped and dyed using local plants.

The Melaleuca Refugee Centre Torture and Trauma Survivors Service of the NT is hosting three exciting and high energy performances by community-based musicians, dancers and cultural custodians. Many people with a refugee background who have rebuilt their lives in Darwin find that maintaining cultural traditions, through dance and music, allows them to affirm their heritage and cultural identity.

The feature performance on Tuesday 26 May 2015 is Gift of Life, a 30-minute play written by Darwin playwright, Ben Graetz and produced by Artback NT in collaboration with Donate Life NT. The play follows the heartfelt story of an Indigenous woman through the difficult process of dialysis. It is a story of family, loss and love and the extraordinary gift of giving through organ donation. The play has toured the NT and Western Australia over the past three years. A question and answer session will follow the performance in which the audience can engage with the important but too often ignored topic of organ donation.

The Grey Panthers and Friends are Darwin’s seniors’ dance troupe who will show delegates that age is no barrier to embracing life, and the humour, courage and beauty of living in our later years. With most participants over the age of 60, the Grey Panthers are successful, productive, healthy and positive role models for active ageing and lifelong learning.

In the final plenary session an auction will be held of artworks by Luke Arkapaw, Stewart Roper and Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr-Baumann. Luke’s photographic artwork is part of his Window seat: (the) way to work exhibition that will be launched on the evening of Sunday 24 May, and features images of his journeys to work in remote communities with the Brien Holden Vision Organisation.

Close friend of the National Rural Health Alliance, Stewart Roper, works as a community health nurse with the Nganampa Health Council. Stewart has donated a framed picture from his photographic presentation book, Palya, based on images and recollections from two decades on the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands in north-western South Australia.

Internationally acclaimed Indigenous artist Miriam-Rose was the NT’s first fully qualified Aboriginal teacher and longtime principal of the local Nauiyu Catholic primary school. Through her work with the Miriam Rose Foundation she supports Indigenous youth to learn to ‘walk in two worlds’, those being Aboriginal culture and mainstream Western culture.

“The National Rural Health Alliance has always recognised the strong connection between art, creativity, health and wellbeing," according to Gordon Gregory, CEO.

"The Conference program reflects this and I am delighted that we have been able to collaborate with major Aboriginal organisations such as Larrakia Nation and Barkly Regional Arts. Our program for Darwin will provide an exciting experience for conference delegates and will demonstrate that remoteness is no barrier to the key role that arts and health collaborations can play in improving health and wellbeing in rural and remote Australia.”

The NRHA would like to acknowledge the support for the program from Larrakia Nation and Barkly Regional Arts.

To learn more about the Arts and Health stream and the showcase of events on offer go to www.ruralhealth.org.au/13nrhc/program/arts-and-health   

Media Release Contact Info: 

Gordon Gregory – Chief Executive:                02 6285 4660
Tim Kelly – Chairperson:                               0438 011 383
Leanne Coleman – Conference Manager:        02 6285 4660