Shifting gears

Completing my PhD research put me in a place of needing to effect the world from a different angle. Working in alignment with community development and health promotion through my years of community arts facilitation drew me to this field. My research had focused on how it is we create the spaces around us and conversely how those same spaces create us- I recognised an easy confluence between the space making practices of installation art and of community development.

It is also a field that lends itself to creative thinking, both in terms of project delivery and adaptation as well as utilising the arts as a vehicle for engagement. It’s been a really good space to channel my energy.

My first official role was as Age-friendly Communities Project Officer at a neighbouring local government. The purpose of the role is to foster opportunities that make it easier for older people to stay connected to the community and to live healthy, independent lives for as long as possible. There are layers and layers to this work, it has led me to draw on varied research from the tangible health benefits of social connection (go look up the Coalition to End Loneliness https://www.endloneliness.com.au/ as well as the Social Cure https://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/bigideas/the-health-effect-of-social-contact/9720152 ) to the wrath of ageism to barriers to transport in regional Australia …. and more and more…

One of the rather interesting realms that this work has taken me into is the area of death, and our tendencies to avoid the topic which causes us (ironically) a whole heap of unnecessary grief right when we can least afford it. In October and November last year I worked on a project that brought the “end-of-life roadshow -Unspoken: what will become of me” to Corangamite Shire. This involved chaperoning Born in a Taxi’s “Fallen Angels” street theatre troop through the Cobden Spring Festival & the Camperdown Rock the Clock. It was a blast. Attaching angle wings to two of my off-spring and employing their services in the gig added to the delight.

I have continued to work in the age-friendly communities space and have also recently begun work as an elder abuse prevention worker. This later role has required me to dig into the imagination bank and produce an arts-led community awareness campaign. The “Warm Safe Home Project” is its title. The core of this project emerged from my PhD research and the years spent examining the home/house and the intersection it facilitates between body and world. In many cultures the home is a symbol of security and safety, in family violence situations- such as elder abuse- however, the home can become a space of fear. In addition, it is access to housing itself that can exacerbate the risks associated with elder abuse. This project was launched at World Elder Abuse Awareness Day events Warrnambool and Timboon this June- the Commissioner for Senior Victorians Gerard Mansour even made the very first campaign house. I am proud of this little project and really excited to see where it goes over the next twelve months.

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