12 December 2016: A University of Canberra staff member will use his Fellowship from the Churchill Trust to see how creative arts programs help soldiers suffering post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Faculty of Arts and Design general manager Ian Drayton is one of 106 Australians to receive a 2016 Churchill Fellowship.
Mr Drayton will use the Fellowship to study the application of creative arts in the rehabilitation and recovery of wounded and ill defence personnel suffering combat-related PTSD in the United Kingdom and the United States.
“With a significant number of Australian Defence Force members experiencing PTSD in the last year, it is clear that more needs to be done to assist our returned servicemen and women,” Mr Drayton said.
“I want to know how we can further extend the use of creative arts programs and the use of simulation technology to improve outcomes for those with PTSD and those who have been wounded or injured as part of their service.
“If we can use the arts to help recovering veterans improve their mental health that will be a great achievement. Not only will it benefit our veterans, but also their families and our communities for years to come.”
Mr Drayton will travel to the UK and USA in June to meet with Defence and private organisations which are using creative arts as a means to reduce the effects of PTSD in ex-servicemen and women.
He will also use the Fellowship to further develop existing recovery strategies and extend these activities to other 'at risk' first responders such as emergency services and those working in health services.
Mr Drayton is also the leading force behind the Australian Defence Force’s Arts for Recovery, Resilience, Teamwork and Skills (AARTS) program, which is delivered by the University of Canberra.
The AARTS program, which started in May last year, is designed for personnel experiencing service-related health and well-being issues, and aims to improve confidence, well-being and resilience. It helps participants learn new skills and adapt to different environments.
Initially run as a pilot project, it is now a formal five-year funded project with 99 participants from across Australia already having taken part.
Mr Drayton said the ARRTS program is saving lives and hopes to emulate its success through his new project.
“We must overcome the terrible toll of suicide rates in our Defence Force and I see this program as supporting that intent,” he said.
Announced last week, the Fellowships provide an opportunity for recipients to travel overseas for up to eight weeks to conduct research in their chosen field that is not readily available in Australia.
Read more about the AARTS program: