Key education announcements at Arts on Prescription launch

Two major positive ageing research and education initiatives were announced at the official launch of HammondCare's Arts on Prescription exhibition at University of NSW.

The launch by Hon Susan Ryan AO featured artworks from participants in the inaugural Arts on Prescription program, which aims to improve older people’s heath and well-being through art.

The first announcement, from HammondCare's CE Dr Stephen Judd was for the creation of a new PhD Scholarship in Ageing, a joint partnership between HammondCare and UNSW. The scholarship is for a student beginning in 2018 and will focus on an emerging theme in ageing in Australia. It is for three years full time and is valued at around $110,000.

The second announcement, by Professor Raina MacIntyre, Head of the UNSW School of Public Health and Community Medicine, was for a new elective on offer to students which will focus on ageing and aged care, with HammondCare being the industry partner.

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Ageing: 'a positive chapter in life'

Opening the exhibition, former Age Discrimination and Disability Commissioner, and Minister in the Hawke Cabinet, Susan Ryan said ageing should be another positive chapter in a long life: “Involvement in the arts, as this program shows, is key to that positive experience. The arts have the capacity to engage, stimulate, inform and provide enjoyment to all of us, no matter what age we are,” Ms Ryan said.

“All of us as individuals and members of our community have a responsibility to our elders, to support them living their later years with dignity, security and the greatest possible personal happiness.

"This program demonstrates how engagement in the arts can give our older citizens immense satisfaction, in some cases opening up an individual's creative side for the very first time.”

More than 150 older people have participated in the Arts on Prescription program since it began two years ago. The initiative, funded through Federal Government’s Healthy Ageing Grants program, has been managed by HammondCare in partnership with UNSW School of Public Health and Community Medicine and UNSW Art and Design.

Head of Research for HammondCare, Prof Chris Poulos said the inaugural Australian program had proven to be very successful, and a full evaluation of the program is nearing completion.

“Similar arts programs run overseas have been shown to strengthen communities, break down age barriers, genuinely build respect for older people and challenge stigmas and stereotypes,” Prof Poulos said.

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About Arts on Prescription

Arts on Prescription uses participatory arts programs, alongside traditional health care, to help older people improve their physical and mental wellbeing.

Creating art has a positive impact on a range of challenges to wellbeing, such as anxiety, depression, social isolation and bereavement, while singing and movement art forms can improve physical health and mobility.

Arts on Prescription links older people with professional artists to explore and enjoy a wide range of artistic endeavours in a regular small group setting over ten weeks, run in two locations in Sydney.

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