Australian Defence Force (ADF) members, veterans and ACT Emergency Services Agency personnel dealing with health and wellbeing challenges will benefit with the resumption of the Arts for Recovery, Resilience, Teamwork and Skills (ARRTS) program.
Minister for Defence Personnel Darren Chester said the program had been suspended due to COVID-19 restrictions, but had resumed at the beginning of this month with 20 participants. “The ARRTS program has run twice per year since 2015, but the long-awaited November session is now underway at the University of Canberra in a COVID-safe environment,” Chester said. “This program has helped more than 230 people deal with health and wellbeing challenges and it’s great to see it up and running again.”
The four-week live-in program offers the choice of three streams: Visual Arts, Creative Writing, and Music and Rhythm. All sessions are taught by civilian experts, supported by a health team that includes psychologists, nurses and a physiotherapist.
Head of ARRTS, Brigadier Wayne Goodman understands the impact of the program’s suspension, having gone through a similar program after suffering a traumatic brain injury, upon his return from Afghanistan. “I’m delighted that the program has resumed. It’s been 11 months since the last one and, in a year filled with additional uncertainty, the health and wellbeing benefits of the program are desperately needed,” Goodman said.
In addition to supportive and engaging hands-on workshops that are designed to rebuild people’s confidence and provide inspiration for life beyond the program, the group will be taken on tours of the Australian War Memorial, the National Gallery and the National Museum. Participant safety will be a priority at all times. Tours will be staggered to reduce numbers, and face masks will be worn where appropriate.
Artistic director Geoff Grey has looked in detail at how to operate effectively in the current environment, and is confident of a positive outcome. “We’re all excited to embrace technology as an element of effective physical distancing, which will let us run our sessions in a safe and responsible manner and have allowed the return of this valuable program,” Grey said.
The next ADF ARRTS program will be held in Canberra during June 2021. More information is available here.