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Claire Spencer AM Promoting Positive Mental Health with Performing Arts

Arts Centre Melbourne CEO, Claire Spencer AM, has made an outstanding contribution to the promotion of positive mental health in the performing arts industry. A chartered accountant with a Masters in Theology, she has steered the Arts Centre Melbourne towards increased social impact and sustainability, and recently through the COVID-19 emergency. Claire returns to 3KND to yarn about mental health and becoming a finalist in this years Australian Mental Health Prize. Under her guidance and support, the Arts Wellbeing Collective (AWC) was established by Arts Centre Melbourne in 2017 in collaboration with the performing arts sector. The AWC is an initiative that comprises a consortium of arts and cultural organisations working together to promote positive mental health and wellbeing in the performing arts.

This is a tailored solution, with the intention of addressing the very significant challenges to mental wellness that working in the performing arts represents at an individual, company and sector level. The AWC has since won the ‘Martin Seligman Health and Wellbeing Award’ at the 2019 Australian HR Institute Awards, has been a finalist in the VicHealth Awards ‘Improving Mental Wellbeing’ in 2017, 2018, 2019, and at the Australian HR Awards. ‘Best Health & Wellbeing Program’ in 2017. Claire is a Board member of the Pinnacle Foundation and a member of Chief Executive Women. In 2020 she was recognised with an Order of Australia (AM) for services to the arts and community.

The Australian Mental Health Prize was established in 2016 by UNSW through its School of Psychiatry, Australia’s pre-eminent psychiatric research department within UNSW Medicine. The Prize recognises Australians who have made outstanding contributions to either the promotion of mental health or the prevention/treatment of mental illness.

Mental illnesses are common and highly disabling. In any one year, one in five adult Australians and one in seven children aged four to 17 will experience some form of mental illness. One in three Australians will have a mental illness in their lifetime. • In 2017-18, one in five (20.1%) or 4.8 million Australians had a mental or behavioural condition, an increase from 4.0 million Australians (17.5%) in 2014-15. • In 2017-18, 3.2 million Australians (13.1%) had an anxiety-related condition, an increase from 11.2% in 2014-15. • One in 10 people (10.4%) had depression or feelings of depression, an increase from 8.9% in 2014-15. Source: National Health Survey 2017-18


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