Art Therapy for Indigenous Kids

Earlier this year my husband and I sold our house in Bendigo then went up to Cairns because our son's presently serving at Thursday Island, in the Army in Communications and I wanted to see what it was like up that way and see if I could get some work because we're not quite retired just yet.

I’m a teacher – mostly in Aboriginal communities. I grew up in Swan Hill & Kerang and was pretty much part of the mob down there. I've also done drug and alcohol education as well.  

My husband does floor covering, so he found work easy enough but I found it a little bit harder.

I really wanted to do my art therapy though, something I’m very passionate about.

So a good friend of mine who lives up at Aurukun FNQ told me about a job in the arts that was advertised a couple of weeks ago. I applied for it and they wanted to see me,  so we drove up there and had a look and I was amazed! It’s got this beautiful, big art room that hasn't been used for a long time.

Best of all I got the job and I'm VERY excited because it doesn't matter who you are, what age or whatever if you follow your dreams you can usually make them come true one way or the other!

A lot of people ask me “Why art? What’s so special about it?”

Well art is always a great healer.

It’s a great way indigenous kids particularly can express how they're feeling through their artwork and also be able to help them with any pre-school behaviour issues. I'm trained in what is called ‘Clay Field Therapy’ which helps us all with emotional stuff.
Clay Field is actually a box about the size of your standard kitchen sink but just an inch or two high, and you fill it up with clay. It's a one on one therapy and you sit down with your student/client and depending on whether it's an adult or a child they close their eyes... or not. 
This is because children don't close their eyes. But adults do.

And we talk about what's happening with their hands in the clay. And it's a very healing process.  

So the arts is one of the things that gets kids to school, especially where I've worked in the art programs. The kids are that excited, they want to know what you're doing for the day. Usually I'll have morning recess & lunch sessions as well as some sort of group session as a whole school sort of project going.  I have visual diaries.

I’m actually Dyslexic and you can see a lot of kids that are like me that you understand what was going through their mind and how they express themselves in whatever I've got set for them. But especially the visual diaries. You can see a lot of what's happening and stuff like that.

But you can tell the kids with Dyslexia, though...
Most teacher postings are two to 3 years. So depending on, I suppose, how you enjoy it, how you cope with remote living and all that sort of thing. I think it made it easier for me because I've got my husband Pete. He helps me with a lot of my mad projects and art stuff. And he's pretty good at that.

We also travel with Patty, our gorgeous Jack Russell.

He goes everywhere with us. I'm not really sure how he will go in Arakun though because you’ve got to keep your dogs a little bit separate from the mob dogs and all that stuff.

He loves the water, too. But there's too many crocodiles up there. So we won't be going swimming. We'll have to get him a little paddlers pool or something like that. Because he does love the water. I reckon if you got him a surfboard he'd surf. But anyway, he loves salty water freshwater.

Anyway I’m really enjoying Arakun and the people and hope we can stay even longer… just hope we don’t get too many cyclones!

But most of all… follow your dreams and do whatever makes YOU happy.

(c) 2019 Robyn Robinson as told to Brian & Kaye

Image: Indigenous Art Therapy (c) 

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