News & Events

ABC Listen: Life Matters explores Creative Recovery

Radio National’s Life Matters program recently explored the positive impacts arts programs can have on communities recovering from disaster. Life Matters host, Hilary Harper, spoke with PhD Candidate and Graduate Research Teaching Fellow at the University of Melbourne, Anna Kennedy-Borissow, and project manager of the Regeneration Bushfire Recovery Project, Jessica Townsend.

Responding to the importance of community consultation, Anna said: “The most successful examples of creative recovery have had artists and facilitators embedded in communities and really responding to their needs, interests and desires to express themselves.”

Anna discussed how the emergency management sector as a whole is recognising increasingly that they need to focus on the social and psychological recovery of communities alongside the rebuilding and infrastructure. She said: “It’s not necessarily an either / or proposition. It’s about recognising that by supporting the social and psychological recovery of disaster affected communities, they’re better able to do those other practical things to rebuild.”

Jessica Townsend shared the story of how the various arts-based programs that made up the Regeneration Bushfire Recovery Project impacted her community in Beechmont following the Black Summer bushfires of 2019-20. Speaking about the value of community consultation, Jessica said: “it keeps coming back to taking time and having that really open community consultation and building trust within the community.”

Jessica also referenced the value of the three-day Creative Recovery training program that she and 20 other community members participated in: “Through that training we were able to really solidify what our outcomes were and put some really good frameworks in place because this is a really sensitive space and people are in trauma and when doing these projects, we need to make sure that they feel held and that you’re doing this in a safe and respectful way…and that’s challenging.”

Hilary reiterated the importance of the arts as a vital component of rebuilding communities after a disaster and concluded the segment by asking Anna what policy level changes she would like to see to support the growth of Creative Recovery programs. Anna said: “I would like to see the arts sector consider their role in planning for future disasters and one of the ways that could be addressed is by including disasters in our National Cultural Policy and recognising that the arts does play a role in community recovery.”

“I’d also like to see more local government level and councils including the arts in their emergency recovery plans. This is something that some local governments have started to do through those learnings of supporting projects and recognising that by planning in advance you can tailor the way funding is delivered so that it responds to the nuance in creative recovery projects.”


If you would like to hear more from Anna Kennedy-Borissow and Jessica Townsend, you can listen to them on our Creative Responders podcast at these links:

Growing community connection: a story of renewal after the Beechmont bushfires

In Conversation with Anna Kennedy-Borissow

Find out more about our Creative Recovery Training 



Share this article on


Are you a project facilitator, artist or organisation with a creative recovery project you would like to share in our case study library? Please submit your project details and images for our review at this link.
Submit case study