Arts’nHealth Champions and MADness

Three major Australian organisationsBanner who have championed a national Arts and Health Policy Framework, write here on the new framework endorsed by State and Federal Ministers. I am personally thrilled as I get down to the planning of a number of projects I will be involved in 2014 including assisting the organisation of DANscienCE (National Festival of the interplays between science and dance); Cape York Critters and Wild Country (a “Wilderness Society‘ play for children’s education of endangered species on Cape York,); a new Cairns Children mini-festival; my own dance classes and a local project for DANscienCE; Children’s Festival with the Cairns Festival; and the Children’s Festival of the Tableland Folk Festival.

I guess I am starting to expand all these things by finishing the year with a MAD Party. My MAD party is not just about having a party and going a little mad, although in its own peculiar way, that is what it is about. However the key to my MAD party is understanding the particular MADness I am evoking through the party. And that particular MADness is the MADness that is evoked when people try to dissuade each other from doing an extraordinary thing by proclaiming, “Mate, you’re mad.” In this party it will be proclaimed that “Mate, you are MAD” and it will be a proclamation of enthusiasm, and encouragement. This particular MADness is about people who like that what matters in their life is Making A Difference. Already as my preparations progress a new project stirs in my mind – to make a full length trailer documentary about Tablelanders Making a Difference.

It is often though that great art goes with a little, maybe a lot, of madness. That sad madness referred in such thoughts overlooks the MAD reality of all great artists and everyone involved in the arts. Being involved in the arts improves all health parameters for the involved person and much for their friends. Artists almost always ‘Make a Difference’.

Australian National Framework for Arts and Health

Here is the press release from the National Rural Health Alliance that, in 2012, co-sponsored the first National framework on Arts and Health. Although there has been a change of government this year, the State and Federal Health Ministers have recently endorsed that framework.

14 November 2013
The National Rural Health Alliance is delighted with the endorsement last week by Health Ministers of the National Framework for Arts and Health. Following its earlier endorsement by Australian Cultural Ministers, the Framework is a welcome boost for health professionals and arts practitioners who have for many years championed the role of arts and health as a means of improving health outcomes.
Gordon Gregory, Executive Director of the National Rural Health Alliance, said: “The Framework is a wonderful tool. We now have formal support from Health and Arts Ministers across Australia for activities proved to have considerable value for human health.”
“We see this as an important development in Governments’ acceptance of the crucial place of the social determinants of health. The positive impact of arts and health collaborations can serve as a model for some ‘joined up government’ in other important areas such as housing, education, and in major programs such as Closing the Gap,” Mr Gregory said.
“The biennial National Rural Health Conference has regularly featured case studies of successful arts and health projects that show how effective these collaborations can be. Delegates at the 12th Conference in Adelaide in April this year supported the Framework and it is gratifying to have Health Ministers signing up to it.”
The Framework encourages collaborative partnerships and new approaches by arts and health practitioners. It also recognises the considerable evidence base on the value of arts and health practice, and affirms the role of practitioners involved.
Art in its various forms is a means of communication on health and health-related issues. It is in itself therapeutic and is widely used to complement treatment and management of illness. Arts are also widely used as a means of community development, to sustain communities and develop their capacity to deliver health-promoting environments and lifestyles.
For more information on the National Rural Health’s policy on arts and health visit:…
Media Release Contact Info:
Gordon Gregory or Peter Brown on 02 6285 4660

Championing Compassion in Health Care

The International Journal of Rural and Remote health are championing the training of compassion in health care.

The editorial reports: “In recent years attention has been drawn to the fact that compassion towards the patient seems to have decreased, with events at certain hospitals in the UK, Greece and elsewhere showing alarming gaps in the humanity of the care offered. Although there is limited evidence regarding the effects of compassionate care, it is thought that patients who are treated with understanding and compassion may recover faster and manage chronic disorders more effectively. Patient anxiety might also be reduced as a result of compassionate care3.

A recent UK Department of Health Report (2009)4, states that in providing compassionate care:

…we respond with humanity and kindness to each person’s pain, distress, anxiety or need. We search for the things we can do, however small, to give comfort and relieve suffering. We find time for those we serve and work alongside. We do not wait to be asked, because we care…

Until the current time, much work in the field of compassion has focussed on hospital settings, or more urbanised primary care settings. However, the importance of compassionate care is clearly relevant to all healthcare sectors, and we currently invite discussion on the importance of compassionate care in rural and remote areas. Recent efforts by Robin Youngson, anaesthetist and co-founder of the New Zealand Centre for Compassion in Healthcare5, have focussed on promoting compassionate care to wider international communities. Youngson’s work with the Indigenous people of Aotearoa has uncovered fundamental spiritual traditions, crucial to understanding the health needs and beliefs of this population, particularly in relation to the closeness of the family, and the belief that suffering is ‘the illusion of separateness’. With a passion for offering personal service to patients, Youngson’s experience suggests that5:

…when practitioners develop the skills to bring open-hearted compassion to their patients, then the effectiveness of care greatly increases and our patients and families feel safe and cared for…”

Here is their full editorial.

National Rural health Conference a success

The 10th Australian National Rural Health Conference held last week was a big success.

The Cairns Convention centre lived up to its reputation, hosting the 920 delegates without a hitch in a large pleanry and 9 breakout rooms.

I facilitated the first Community Skills Workshop, with over 100 participants, on the Sunday prior to the Conference.

Seth Fourmile welcomed the confernece to country on behalf of the Yidinji.

Queensland Health Minister Paul Lucas opened the conference on Monday morning (18th May).

Federal Health Minister, Nicola Roxon, received 19 recommendations from the conference at close on Wednesday afternoon (20th May).

A wide and challenging group of keynote speakers and presenters addressed: indigenous health, effects of climate change on rural health, physician assistants and nurse practitioners, art-in-health, alcohol, community controlled services, national health reform, multidisciplinary health teams, electronic patient records, etc.

Some photos at the Flickr site (see right menu)

Australian Health Minister receives recommendations

Yesterday the 10th National Rural Health Conference closed with the arrival of the Australian Health Minister, Nicola Roxon, who received around 25 recommendations that had been compiled from the floor over the three days of the conference. Walking slowly on a recently sprained ankle that she assured me was due to a slip on a floor while she was hurrying, Minister Roxon’s address to the conference was well-received. While the economic downturn has created some restraint, the rural health industry is only too happy that the Australian Government has decided to go into serious deficit to keep this national society moving forward.

Conference papers and the recommendation will shortly be on the NRHA website.