Defence force salutes healing power of the arts

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Madeleine Dore

Australia's army, navy and air force personnel will have access to a new creative recovery program, making the arts a key weapon in the battle for the health of the troops.

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James Duncan, Patrick Hayes and Gary Wilson in Sydney Theatre Company and the Australian Defence Force's The Long Way Home.

From writing as therapy to immersive art experiences, art is increasingly acknowledged as a force which can heal us from stress, help us overcome psychological challenges and various art practices are utilised to heal us from stress, anxieties, and psychological and physical weaknesses. Yet despite its prominence, the value of art as therapy is not often at the forefront of non-arts industries.

​The Australian Defence Force (ADF)​ has proved itself ahead of the pack as a supporter of the value of art with the recent introduction a creative arts program to improve mental health and wellbeing.

Following its collaboration with Sydney Theatre Company collaboration in 2014 for The Long Way Home, the ADF has created the Arts for Recovery, Resilience, Teamwork and Skills (ARRTS) Program to assist personnel facing service related health and well-being issues.

‘We just want everyone in ​Defence to realise the unique value of the arts, particularly in rehabilitation,’ said program manager Brigadier Wayne Goodman.

About the author

Madeleine Dore is a freelance writer and founder of Extraordinary Routines, an interview project exploring the intersection between creativity and imperfection. She is the previous Deputy Editor at ArtsHub. Follow her on Twitter at @RoutineCurator