Art therapy program assists refugee students

Friday, 20 June 2008

Earlier this year the Queensland Integrated Refugee Community Health Clinic (QIRCH) and Mater’s Child Youth and Mental Health Service (CYMHS) collaborated on an eight-week art therapy program with students from a refugee background attending Moorooka State Primary School.

The art therapy program, run by CYMHS clinicians, focused on ideas of community, reflecting the theme for World Refugee Day 2008 in Australia—A Place to Call Home.

On Friday 20 June 2008, students’ artworks were showcased at the Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA) to celebrate World Refugee Day. The art exhibition was followed by a party at the Circus of Dreams in Mater Children’s Hospital.

QIRCH Clinic Manager Claire Brolan said the exhibition was a great way to celebrate the children’ of a refugee background who now live in Brisbane and showcase community collaboration, highlighting the culturally diverse area in which we live and work.

Approximately 1600 people of a refugee background are settled in Queensland annually by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship, with over 60% directly in Mater’s catchment area.

The clinic is receiving an increasing number of referrals from schools in South Brisbane who are requesting specialist primary health support in managing the settlement needs of their refugee students.

We recognise a holistic approach is required, with consideration of how psycho-social health may impinge and interconnect with primary health issues.

The art therapy program was a wonderful initiative in terms of building networks, service provision understanding and rapport between Mater services and our local community. The program embodied Mater’s ‘Mission in action’ principles.

Claire Brolan,
QIRCH Clinic Manager

CYMHS Multicultural Mental Health Coordinator Rebecca Wilkins said the project profiled multiculturalism and refugee health care within Mater.

In November 2007 a Mater Multicultural Health Network began—to support multicultural workers and help them respond to culturally and linguistically diverse clients through embodiment of the Mater Vision.

Rebecca Wilkins,
CYMHS Multicultural Mental Health Coordinator

The art therapy program was funded by Multicultural Affairs Queensland from the Multicultural Assistance Program 2007–2008.

QIRCH and CYMHS would like to extend their gratitude to St Vincent’s & Holy Spirit Health, Mater Foundation, Mater Mission, Moorooka State Primary School, GOMA, and the Refugee Council of Australia.

Filed under: Support
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