Investigators: Leanne Fried, Robyn Johnston, Jacinta Francis, Karen Lombardi, Karen Forde, Sarah Falconer, Julia Morris; Lilly Blue
External collaborators:the West Australian Ballet; the West Australian Youth Theatre Company, the Arts Gallery of Western Australia, FORM
Partners: Healthway; Edith Cowan University
It is now generally acknowledged that the mental health and wellbeing of Australian children and young people, particularly those who are disadvantaged or marginalised, is of considerable concern with significant numbers experiencing high levels of psychological distress. Currently in Australia most mental health care resources are allocated to acute care
through hospital services rather than to preventing mental health problems or promoting positive social and emotional wellbeing (SEWB). A powerful way to promote the SEWB of children and young people is through the arts.
The ‘Building Social and Emotional Wellbeing Through the Arts Project’ was funded in 2021 by Healthway and supported through a partnership between the Telethon Kids Institute and Edith Cowan University (ECU). The project aimed to develop and pilot a resource to support teaching artists (TAs), arts administrators, and parents to build the SEWB of children and
young people participating in arts programs. The strengths-based, children and young person-centred resource (SEW – Arts) was developed with project collaborators and consumer input through workshop consultation and focus groups. A select group of arts organisations acted as advisors throughout.
A follow-up project was conducted in 2022 to determine the effectiveness of SEW – Arts in enhancing the skills and knowledge of the arts community, including TAs and arts administrators, to intentionally promote the SEWB of children and young people througharts programs. To achieve this aim, the project team collaborated with select arts organisations to trial the resource.
The project was conducted in four phases, including: (1) developing a professional learning package for the resource; (2) conducting professional learning with personnel from arts organisations in Western Australia (WA) to help them implement elements of the resource into their programs and organisations; (3) trialling the use of the resource in arts programs;
and (4) evaluating its impact.