Arts and Health

Taking full advantage of the rich and vibrant culture of the Northern Territory, the 13th National Rural Health Conference arts and health program will have two primary streams: Northern Territory Indigenous Arts and Health Showcase; and Being Well: Creative engagement with Arts and Health.

The National Rural Health Conference acknowledges the support of The Regional Arts Fund—an Australian Government initiative supporting the arts in regional, remote and very remote/isolated Australia. The Regional Arts Fund is delivered in partnership with the Northern Territory Government.

Barkly Regional Arts

We warmly welcome our partnerships with Larrakia Nation and Barkly Regional Arts which have helped to enrich the arts and health stream.

The Northern Territory Indigenous Arts and Health Showcase brings together an exciting range of projects, people and activities to present the cultural and artistic context of Indigenous health practice and create opportunities for delegates to meet, talk and connect.

Larrakia Nation
In addition to a welcome ceremony, Larrakia Nation, representing Indigenous owners of Darwin, will present cultural and health activities including concurrent sessions on its award winning health service programs: ‘arts in the grass’ and ‘care coordination’. Tony Lee will lead a (men only) didgeridoo workshop in which delegates will learn more about the cultural significance of the didgeridoo and master the art of circular breathing to create different tones. Pandanus weaving from the Gunga weavers (originally from Arnhem Land) will be featured in a workshop which will allow delegates to make a mat, basket, dilly bag or fish trap using pandanus leaves, which have been dried, stripped and dyed using local plants. Visit the Larrakia Nation pop-up shop for authentic Aboriginal art, carvings, jewellery, woven goodies, t-shirts, books, postcards and more. You can also slip on a headset and listen to different Aboriginal stories at Radio Diaries interactive display.

Out of School Hours Care service: Jade and Lareece

Visit Bagot Indigenous Community: Take a bus ride across town to Darwin’s oldest town camp and visit the Child Australia Out of School Hours Care service at Bagot Community. The program caters to children and families and works holistically to improve outcomes across the community. Meet the OSHC team and some of the children who live at Bagot Community and discover how creative activities are part of daily life. Child Inclusive Learning and Development Australia (Child Australia) is a not for profit organisation dedicated to improving developmental outcomes for children through education, early childhood services, family support and advocacy. At Bagot Community, Child Australia runs a Families and Children Service to support children’s development and build family capacity.

Barkly Regional Arts will present a ‘pop up gallery’ that will allow conference delegates to experience the unique music, visual arts, dance, language and stories of the vibrant Barkly region. Short films, live performances by Indigenous musicians, and two arts and health exhibitions: Digital Mapping—an interactive online map and photographic display of Canteen Creek created by Dion Beasley (Cheeky Dog artist), and Conversation Plates-a disability ceramic exhibition telling the story of the Barkly will showcase the achievements of Barkly artists. Barkly Regional 52 13th National Rural Health Conference Arts, a multi-arts organisation, provides an interface between Indigenous and mainstream cultures to reaffirm core Barkly Regional Arts values including: a celebration of and respect for cultural diversity and recognition of a unique Indigenous culture.

The Mulka Project is a Yolngu multimedia archive and production centre based at the Buku-Larrnggay Mulka Art Centre, an Indigenous community controlled art centre of Northeast Arnhem Land. The name ‘Mulka’ (meaning a sacred but public ceremony, and, to hold or protect) was given to the project by Buku-Larrnggay Mulka artists, who funded and now lead the project. The mission is to sustain and protect Yolngu cultural knowledge in Northeast Arnhem Land under the leadership of community members. The Mulka production house and archive is managed by Yolngu law, governance and culture. The Mulka project employs and trains Yolngu people of all ages: it makes audio-visual resources available for secondary students, provides workplace training for graduates, creates income streams for Homeland communities, and employs cultural advisors, curators and translators. The project is a media training ground for future Indigenous leaders. Visit the Mulka showcase and Buku-Larrnggay Mulka artists in the foyer throughout the conference.

Gift of Life rehearsal: Ella Watson-Russell and Lynette Lewis Hubbard. Photographer: Tony Rive

Gift of Life Theatre performance and Q&A: Gift of Life is a play commissioned and produced by Artback NT in collaboration with Donate Life NT. Written by Darwin based playwright, Ben Graetz, this educational and moving performance has toured through the NT and Western Australia over the past three years. Gift of Life utilises a combination of traditional theatre and educational drama. Gift of Life is a 30-minute performance designed for non-theatre spaces. It has been staged at primary and high schools, detention centres, shopping centres, remote health clinics and art centres.

Shellie Morris

Shellie Morris is an ambassador for the Fred Hollows Foundation who travels widely creating songs with young people in an effort to reduce the incidence of trachoma in Indigenous communities. As a supporter of the Foundation, she has worked with many young people to create songs in language that talk about how to live a Thumbs Up! life—a healthy, strong and long life. Shellie has written thousands of songs during her career in conjunction and collaboration with communities around Australia. She has also worked with The Jimmy Little Foundation to promote the vision of the late Dr Jimmy Little for Australian First Nations people to live to longer, healthier lives. She has an unshakable passion for working in communities and an excellent reputation as a facilitator and friend to many communities. She speaks a little of 14 Indigenous languages and has worked in more than 40 remote communities around Australia.


Being Well: creative engagement with Arts and Health celebrates the spirit, talent and cultural diversity of arts and health practice from around rural and regional Australia with a big focus on the vitality, diversity and richness of the multicultural NT

Darwin Rondalla

Darwin Rondalla: Early Filipino rondallas (string bands pronounced, in the Filipino style, as RONDHAL- YA) in Darwin paved the way for a proliferation of string bands in the 1930s. Antonio Cubillo of Calapi, Bohol, Philippines and his sons started the rondalla tradition in Darwin. Brenda and Donny are the great-grandchildren of Antonio - Brenda plays guitar and percussion. Donny plays guitar and ukulele. Bong Ramilo co-founded the Darwin Rondalla in 1993 to play the music for “Keep Him My Heart: A Larrakia-Filipino Love Story”, a play written by Gary Cubillo Lee about the Cubillo family. He plays ukulele. Felino Molina has been with the Rondalla since 1993, as soloist and Musical Director. He plays banduria, octavina, and mandolin. Miguel Molina is the youngest and one of the newer members of the Rondalla. He plays bass and guitar.

Desak Putu Warti

Desak Putu Warti was born into an extended artistic family in Pengosekan Ubud, Bali. She graduated from the prestigious Sekolah Tinggi Seni Indonesia (STSI) and became a well known traditional dancer and dance teacher. She arrived in Darwin 1991 and has since attained degrees from the CDU (Arts and Teaching), is now an established dance teacher and frequently performs as an individual artist and with her group, Tunas Mekar Balinese Collective.

My Sisters’ Kitchen

My Sisters’ Kitchen ‘Feast of Stories’: Share a feast of personal stories from the My Sisters’ Kitchen Caravan. This installation invites you to take a seat at a dining table to hear personal stories from the lives of My Sisters’ Kitchen (MSK) participants, using food as the stimulus to recall memories. Follow the remarkable journeys of these women from refugee and migrant backgrounds, discover a new Darwin and marvel at how food and the arts can support and inspire women. Presented by StoryProjects with Darwin Community Arts, Dixi Joy Bankier and My Sisters Kitchen.

Brett Henman

Imagine Me: Discover Imagine Me, a powerful photographic project that gives people living with Spinal Cord Injury a voice to express and to visualise their experiences. Developed by Sue Murray, this project is about inspiration and resilience. By assisting people with disability to explore their imagination, Imagine Me fosters greater community understanding toward people living with disability. Sue Murray studied at the National Art School and the Rhode Island School of Art and Design and began her creative studio practice working in the traditional form of documentary photography where the photographer interprets their subject. Major projects include a nursing home in the USA where she was resident photographer for two years and for which she won an award from Time Magazine New York. On return to Australia Sue began exploring the subject’s participation in the making of their image which is integral to the impact of Imagine Me.

Negative Guilt (digital poem): Panos Couros works primarily with sound, text and digital imagery to create sound design for theatre; writing for multimedia; video/sound installation and mixed/trans media works. Since early 2013 he has been the executive director at NT Writers Centre in Darwin. Negative Guilt is a poem about being an HIV negative man, working in the HIV sector, having been cured of Hep C, and the complexity of emotions and thoughts that this brings. It is also a poem about intimacy.

Angela Atkinson and Quito Washington

Learn to Swing Dance to 1940s Big Band Music: Get ready to dance the night away at the Conference dinner by taking a dance workshop with Quito Washington, who will show you moves you previously only dreamed of!!! Quito has been promoting swing dancing in Darwin since 2000 and with Swing Dance NT has been the leading force in carving out a niche for swing dancing in Darwin on the national scene.

Corrugated Iron Youth Arts: The Performance Menu is a multi-art form showcase that is up close and personal. Guests make a selection from the menu, which includes tasty morsels such as Daredevil Ratatouille and the Contact Juggler Consommé. Performers are called over by the maître d’ to present their performance. It is an engaging and delightful way to meet and see artists in an array of circus, performance, comedy and music. Corrugated Iron Youth Arts is the premier youth arts organisation in the Top End. Corrugated Iron provides innovative and challenging performing arts experiences that express the diversity of young people living in the Northern Territory

Congolese Dancers. Photographer Steve Hebblethwaite.

Belonging in a New Land—cultural performances hosted by Melaleuca Refugee Centre Torture and Trauma Survivors Service of the NT: Many new settlers have fled persecution and war to rebuild their lives in Darwin from countries including Burma, Nepal, Afghanistan, Iran, Sri Lanka, Somalia, Liberia, South Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. For many people of refugee background who find themselves so disconnected from their country of origin, maintaining cultural traditions through dance and music is a vital element in affirming their heritage and cultural identity. But cultural practice is dynamic and many new and unique cultural expressions are emerging as performers from different cultural backgrounds come together in friendship and artistic collaboration. Melaleuca Refugee Centre has been providing services to Darwin’s refugee community for 19 years, providing specialist trauma recovery services to some of the most vulnerable and resilient people in the world. We are proud to present three exciting and high energy performances by community-based musicians, dancers, cultural custodians and innovators. Expect to leap into the circle to join at least one of these performances!

Beautiful Monster, Aly de Groot, monofilament (fishingline) 2013. Image: Darren Clark

Jellyfish installations: Find yourself intrigued and beguiled by Aly De Groot’s jellyfish installations. Aly shows an innovative and unique interpretation of basketry processes and is becoming increasingly celebrated as one of Australia’s leading contemporary fibre artists. Her recent achievements include winning the prestigious TOGART Contemporary Art Prize in Darwin, where the judges praised her woven crocodile form for its ‘combination of whimsy, potency and material resolution’. A large public artwork (pictured) commission for the City of Darwin sees her woven jellyfish interpreted as large cast forms residing permanently at the East Point Nature Reserve. As a recipient of a Charles Darwin University Post Graduate Research Scholarship, Aly’s PhD topic, Underwater Basket Weaving, explores issues surrounding basketry and ecology.

CemeNTstars (Darwin Community Arts drama workshops for young people with disabilities)

CemeNTstars (theatre group of people with disabilities) now in their sixth year of production will present a mixed ability performance dealing with the day-to-day difficulties of communication faced by people living with a disability—Reading the signs is a playful look at the ambiguities of language, communication and signing.

Still Belting Out! Seniors Citizens’ Choir was formed by Paolo Fabris choir conductor and vocal studies lecturer at Charles Darwin University. Established in 2014, Still Belting Out! is a nonauditioning choir that performs choral music with a fun and welcoming attitude.

Grey Panthers. Photographer: Jess Devereux

The Grey Panthers—dance performances by Darwin’s Seniors’ dance troupe: Come and see what keeps the batteries going in this group of senior performers as they take us on a journey that evokes the humour, courage and beauty of living in their later years. This unique Seniors’ Dance Troupe explores what it means to be part of the aging Australian population and the role of the elder in contemporary Northern Territory life. With most participants over the age of 60, the Grey Panthers are ‘successful’, ‘productive’, ‘healthy’ and ‘positive’ role models for active ageing and life long learning. They perform regularly for special one-off events, usually charitable, and especially for older adult, and health specific organisations such as the Arthritis Foundation, University of the Third Age, and Rotary and Lions Clubs, and the Anti-Cancer Foundation, and Darwin Hospital. They were guest performers at the 2014 National Rehabilitation Nurses conference. They are regular performers on Darwin’s arts and cultural calendar, including the very popular Portrait of a Senior Territorian Art Award. This amazing group shows us what happens when you commit to long term extended relationships and links into your community.


The Power of Story:

The Power of Story concurrent session presents a glimpse of the role films and videos can play as part of contemporary arts and health practice. 

Red Dust Role Models

The Healthy Living Program delivers interactive health promotion to school-based youth in six remote Top End and Central Australian communities.

A healthy living theme is identified through community consultation with key stakeholders and draws on sport, art, music and dance as platforms for engagement.

Films include: Nauiyu Nambiyu, Knowledge is Strength, Daripi Tarrunga, Mi Gunja Yu, Blood Brothers, Colours of My Country, Wanganaranku and  Eye Spy

Tin Town Trackers

Desert Pea Media and Western NSW Medicare
Western NSW Medicare Local and Desert Pea Media have teamed up again to work with students from Coonamble High School to deliver their second music video about health messages for the community. This song has a strong mental health focus with the students emphasizing the message to reach out and communicate to mates.

In Focus: Aboriginal Men's Groups

Lyndon Community is a not for profit drug and alcohol agency working in rural Australia. Lyndon's program, Wandarma Aboriginal Drug and Alcohol Service, uses a soft entry approach to support local people to reduce their substance use. Guided by evidence but connected locally, Wandarma helps others to work with Aboriginal men by sharing their experience in this film.

Who we are in Charleville

Who we are in Charleville" is a unique and powerful music documentary about the way of life and aspirations of Student's from Charleville State School and Charleville State High School. This is a ground breaking short film and music clip not only for Small Town Culture but for State School's in Regional Australia. The production tells the story of this eclectic Outback Community and also brings to life the amazing personalities and talents of the children.

Invisible Discriminator

beyondblue’s The Invisible Discriminator depicts non-Indigenous Australians engaging in acts of subtle racism, such as avoiding Indigenous Australians or treating them with suspicion. Its aim is to show the devastating psychological impact that all forms of racism have on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Since July 2013, the campaign has had more than 1.76 million views on YouTube and generated significant community debate. Video provided by beyondblue.