The first ADF Arts for Recovery, Resilience, Teamwork and Skills (ARRTS) program for 2021 ended with a spectacular showcase evening at the University of Canberra’s Inspire Centre on June 3.

The families and friends of the 25 program participants were in the audience.

The four-week program included serving and transitioning individuals from all three services, one ADF veteran and two members of the ACT Emergency Services Agency.

What all participants had in common was a need to reset themselves following emotional challenges that may have been the result of their service.

This was done through creative arts.

The program featured three streams: music and rhythm, creative writing, and visual arts.

Over the course of the program, participants created a diverse range of original artistic works, guided by experienced mentors.

The works included paintings, sculptures, stories, poems, and songs.

The entire group came together to write a song called It Starts With Me that explores the difference the ARRTS program has made to their lives.

The audience, which included senior Defence and ACT Emergency Services staff, was visibly moved by the performance of this song, and the rest of the repertoire, which featured heartfelt readings and inspiring videos.

Jessica Zhang with artwork she developed for the ADF Arts for Recovery, Resilience, Teamwork and Skills program showcase. Photo: Corporal David Cotton

Brigadier Wayne Goodman, who has been head of the ARRTS program since 2015, said he was delighted with the outcome.

“Even though I’ve now seen more than 260 people go through, I’m always amazed by how a group of strangers, many of whom were unsure and afraid when they started, are able to come together and share their stories through creative expression in such a positive way,” Brigadier Goodman said.

“This is so very different from the life they’re used to and opens doors to doing things they may never have imagined.

“Our hope is that, after the self-discovery of the program, they can return to their lives with a new outlook, and build on what was started here.

“And, after what we’ve seen tonight, I’m very confident this can happen."

For more information visit: www.defence.gov.au/jcg/arrts.

Wesley Jenkins displays a booklet and artwork he developed for the ADF Arts for Recovery, Resilience, Teamwork and Skills program showcase. Photo: Corporal David Cotton