Creative outlet helps Navy members recover

This article has photo gallery Published on Mr James McPherson (author), POIS Phil Cullinan (photographer)

Location(s): Canberra, ACT

Keren Short breaks out a sea shanty during the ADF Arts for Recovery, Resilience, Teamwork and Skills Program (ARRTS).  (photo: POIS Phil Cullinan)
Keren Short breaks out a sea shanty during the ADF Arts for Recovery, Resilience, Teamwork and Skills Program (ARRTS).

The Australian Defence Force Arts for Recovery, Resilience, Teamwork and Skills program has wrapped up at the University of Canberra recently with a showcase performance and gallery viewing of the works produced throughout the course.
The program ran for four weeks and provided an opportunity for serving Defence members who have been wounded, injured, or become ill to try something new to further their recovery.
The Chief of Navy, Vice Admiral Tim Barrett, who had attended two performances celebrated the results of the class and assured his commitment to the program.
“The showcase is a compelling reminder that service affects everyone differently. It takes a lot of bravery to confront issues, courage to discuss problems with ship mates, and resilience to present them to an audience,” Vice Admiral Barrett said.
“I commend the participants in this successful program and encourage any Navy members who are recovering from illness or injury to learn more about the course."
Seaman Acoustic Warfare Analyst Submarines Keren Short was one of the 21 participants. Pursuing her creative writing, Seaman Short shared stories of her past and raised the idea of gender specific or gender neutral rank names through a shanty poem.
“I was nervous about presenting my work to the Chief of Navy, but the confidence I’ve gained through the ARRTS program has helped me to find my voice and commit to my convictions," she said.
“The Chief of Navy, Mrs Barrett and the Warrant Officer of the Navy attending and showing their support allows us to become deeply involved and get the most out of it,” Seaman Short said.
Through the medium of the arts, Defence members received the opportunity to tell their story, and the impact on their family of military service, deployment and returning home.
With a focus on restoring faith in a team environment while boosting confidence and self-esteem, course attendees have reported great benefits by redefining their needs, discovering respect for themselves and, for many, renewing their purpose in life.
The next program will run in November and offers four streams - creative writing, music/rhythm, drama and visual arts - and is designed with the flexibility to respond to the abilities of participants, allowing them to work both as part of a team and individually. No previous experience or training is required.