Journey Stories multicultural arts project celebrates Coffs’ diversity

Sep 07, 2023

On 7 September, local multicultural groups came together to celebrate the launch of the Journey Stories short film and photographic exhibition at the Coffs Harbour Health Campus in conjunction with Multicultural Health Week 2023.

The Arts in Health project is an initiative of Mid North Coast Local Health District and Health Infrastructure that celebrates diversity and shares the moving stories of how refugees and culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities came to call Coffs Harbour home.

The innovative arts program includes many art forms, including dance, music and costume design. Members of the local multicultural community created it to connect the hospital’s old and new sections.

The program aims to ensure the CALD community feels safe, valued and welcome within the health service.

These series of cultural experiences are now permanently documented in a short film and photographic exhibition in the new hospital, as well as a dedicated ‘Younger Stories’ exhibition of stories, poems and artworks by young adult refugees.

Mid North Coast Local Health District Acting Chief Executive Lydia Dennett said the arts project had helped to welcome patients from all backgrounds to Coffs Harbour Health Campus.

“Coffs Harbour is a culturally rich and diverse community, and we want our hospital to be inclusive and a culturally safe service for everyone to experience the care they need,” Ms Dennett said.

Artist Jay Black, social worker Jude Dardel and multicultural leaders led a community co-design approach, collaborating with interpreters and young people across three local schools, supported by STARTTS Youth, to deliver a trauma-informed arts program that reflects their journey.

Together, they shaped the development of the project, which led to dozens of community-led cultural events that were documented in exhibition format and a short film on display in the health campus celebrating their collective cultures.

Congratulations to all staff members who supported the project, which includes a portrait series of 12 photographs by Jay Black, 10 student artworks and stories, plus a short film including an original score by three musicians who had never collaborated prior to recording their song – Bobby Singh, Ali Hasan, and Marko Kisoe.

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