Roots of Change is a storytelling platform dedicated to the Alumni community of The Funding Network Australia. Here we share their stories of ingenuity, courage, determination, spirit, growth and the impact these grassroots organisations have had, as a direct result of funds and support received from The Funding Network community.

Friends of HEAL

Friends of HEAL


Providing creative therapy to ease anguish and assist positive settlement outcomes for young refugees who have endured intense hardship, and who now attend Australian schools.

Friends of HEAL provides creative therapy to ease anguish and assist positive settlement outcomes for young refugees who have endured intense hardship, and who now attend Australian schools. They help these young adults to settle, embrace their new identities and create better mental-health outcomes through culturally appropriate, creative psychotherapeutic methods.

2015 Pitch
Funds raised: $44,850

Friends of HEAL delivered their pitch to TFN in June 2015 and raised $44,850 to further their work in schools. These funds went towards the provision of Creative Arts Therapy at Woodridge State High School.

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The impact...

Sadly, moving away from an experience of trauma does not guarantee safe passage to a new life. Newly arrived refugee young people in Australia who have experienced trauma in their early lives are often expected to behave like other young people who have not lived through the same things. HEAL, or Home of Expressive Arts in Learning, gives young refugees a safe haven within their schools using the healing power of creative expression. Friends of HEAL chooses to deliver their program in schools because the school environment normalises life for young people who have been through trauma. The program uses compassionate, culturally-sensitive trained art psychotherapists to practice art as therapy with young people. “The universal language of creativity,” FHEAL says, “is extremely important. It is not judgemental, it’s gentle, and it’s accessible.”

The TFN funding provided about 120 young people with HEAL creative arts therapy, including young people from Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Congo, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Burundi and Somalia. FHEAL has expanded into further schools and two schools are now independently paying FHEAL therapists for some days to expand the service in their schools.

To understand the effect FHEAL is having on young refugee students in Australia, the organisation highlights the story of a 12-year-old boy who, having experienced forced flight from his home village and the murder of his father, would become angry and leave when people raised their voices in class. After discussing his experiences in a safe space with HEAL therapy, the boy came to understand his trauma response and was able to learn mindfulness and meditation in order to manage his emotions. He has not had to leave his classroom since and he is now learning more happily and effectively.

FHEAL's CEO Jane Griffin shares some lovely feedback from a teacher at Woodbridge State High School (including a footnote from one of the students) and you can also hear directly from one of the classroom teachers on why and how art therapy for refugee kids in Queensland schools really works...  


Read their Impact Report

Learn more about Friends of HEAL.

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