A program aimed at supporting veterans, and ADF and emergency services personnel deal with health and wellbeing challenges has been reinstated following a temporary suspension.
The Arts for Recovery, Resilience, Teamwork and Skills (ARRTS) program has officially resumed after being suspended in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The program — which aims to provide therapeutic support to Australian Defence Force members, veterans and ACT Emergency Services Agency personnel — recommenced this month at the University of Canberra with 20 participants.
Commenting on the resumption of the program, which has run twice a year since 2015, Minister for Defence Personnel Darren 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.”
Those participating in the four-week live-in program are offered 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, noted the impact of the program’s absence, drawing from his experiences 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,” BRIG Goodman said.
In addition to offering hands-on workshops to participants, groups are also taken on tours of the Australian War Memorial, the National Gallery and the National Museum.
In light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, tours will be staggered to reduce numbers, with face masks also worn when appropriate.
Artistic director Geoff Grey also noted, “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.”
The next ADF ARRTS program is set to take place in Canberra in June next year.