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Journeys Stories multicultural arts project celebrates Coffs Harbour’s cultural diversity

To celebrate Multicultural Health Week, local multicultural groups came together to celebrate the launch of the Journeys Stories short film and photographic exhibition at the Coffs Harbour Health Campus. 

Delivered as part of the hospital expansion, 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 included all art forms – dance, music, costume design, food and arts – and was created by members of the local multicultural community to connect the old and the new sections of the hospital, supporting the community to feel 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. 

Health Infrastructure Chief Executive Rebecca Wark said incorporating cultural features into hospital design can make a positive contribution toward the wellbeing of culturally diverse communities.

“The project mirrors the many voices in Coffs Harbour on the walls of the hospital with vibrant colour and joy, directly reflecting their stories and hopes for the future in a setting where so many feel so vulnerable. Their stories of courage, healing and hope can inspire the health care journey of all people giving and receiving care,” Ms Wark said. 

Facilitated by artist Jay Black and social worker Jude Dardel, multicultural Elders 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 stories. 

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