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13 November, 2020

Creativity supporting mental health and wellbeing

Inspired by her ancestors, wildlife and bush tucker, 15-year-old Wudarabin Snider from Cooktown has produced the winning design in an Indigenous Creative Art Competition staged by the Royal Flying Doctor Service (Queensland Section) (RFDS).

Earlier this year, the RFDS Far North Mental Health and Wellbeing (MHWB) team, in partnership with the Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Foundation, asked several high schools in the state’s north to design an artwork that could feature on the team’s new uniforms. 

RFDS (Queensland Section) Far North Mental Health Manager Jos Middleton said around 60 per cent of the clients who engaged with the team identify as being Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander. 

“We hope that by incorporating Indigenous art into the uniform, we will help develop stronger connections with communities and see improved engagement with our mental health programs,” she said. 

“Connection, relevance and engagement is key to the vital work that our mental health teams perform right across the state.” Ms Middleton said the robust judging process enabled all RFDS employees in Queensland to vote on the winning design.

“A panel featuring Cairns-based Indigenous artists, along with Indigenous, mental health and senior RFDS employees, also contributed to determining the final winners,” she said. 

“Judging was based on composition and design, creativity, originality and overall aesthetic value.” In the lead-up to NAIDOC Week (November 8-15, 2020), Far North MHWB team members visited the schools of the three artists to present the students with their prizes. 

Ms Middleton said Wudarabin’s winning artwork would be featured on the new uniform for the Far North MHWB team next year. “The uniform will be worn with great pride. 

Wudarabin’s story of using art to assist her in the grieving process reflects the value of creativity to support mental health and wellbeing. Her design is therefore a very appropriate winner,” she said. “It has been a true privilege to take this journey and I thank all entrants for sharing their designs and their stories with us.”

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