Music to our ears: how creative expression is great for your overall wellbeing 

ACTION: Adapting CANSAS to Individuals’ Own Needs                                         Recovery Conversation Theme #8: Mental Wellbeing

by Chloe Hancock


Chloe Hancock is the Manager of Flourish Australia’s New Outlook down at Wollongong. She spoke to Panorama about how creative expression, such as through music, art and creative writing, can work wonders for recovery. PHOTO BY GRANT EVERETT 

Music can act as a pathway to recovery, which is one reason why New Outlook has a big music area stocked with lots of instruments. Heaps of people come all week to practise guitar or piano with their headphones on, and we also have jamming sessions on Fridays where the whole community gets together to rock out. Friday is also karaoke and open mic night. 

The New Outlook Band gets together every Wednesday to practise for their next upcoming gig. They’ve performed in Mackay Park and Crown Street Mall, at the local events held for mental health month each year, as well as the Cultural Celebration days we hold at New Outlook every month. We also run music lessons for our other members on Wednesday, too. 

We motivate people to reach for their creativity goals, as well as any other goals they might have in relation to performance or other expressive kinds of art. A number of people who access our services have told us that it’s their goal to perform music in public, and some of our musicians go out busking. One band member, Dave, is able to attend open mic nights at a local hotel on Thursdays because of the support he receives from a Flourish Australia worker. 

Expressing towards independence 

But our members don’t need us to do everything for them when it comes to self-development or creative expression. Take John, for instance: he plays the piano and the flute, and he wanted to be able to practise on a full pipe organ (not the most common of instruments). He met with some representatives from Town Hall on his own bat, told them he accesses Flourish Australia services, and reminded them how they’ve worked with us in the past. As a result, not only did he negotiate to be able to use their pipe organ, but they allow him to use it for free. John had the same conversation with an Anglican church just down the road, so now he can practise there, too. 

When John plays a pipe organ, it brings a real vibrancy to the space. These were great outcomes. 

Creating your own recovery 

We do a lot of creative recovery planning focussed around artistic expression. So rather than just filling out questions on a form, a person might write a song about their recovery, or create a piece of artwork that demonstrates their journey. As expressing yourself artistically has all kinds of amazing benefits, it’s something we encourage. 

We also run art activities that have therapeutic outcomes. At the moment we have workers from Art Peace Projects coming in as a partner program. We get out the supplies materials and APP comes in to run things. 

drums.jpgABOVE: The New Outlook drum kit, just one small piece of their music room PHOTO BY GRANT EVERETT 


New Outlook is located at 3 Station Street, Wollongong, NSW 2500

You can call them on (02) 9393 9156

New Outlook is open weekdays 8AM to 4PM

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