Australia - International Document

Art and Wellness: The Importance of Art for Aboriginal Peoples’ Health and Wellbeing

Author(s):*Listed Alphabetically
de Leeuw S, Murihead A

Year of Publication:

National Collaborating Centre for Aboriginal Health

Publication Type:


This report notes that many Aboriginal cultural practices are simultaneously art, creative expression, religious practice, ritual models and markers of governance structures and territorial heritage, as well as maps of individual and community identity and lineage. Some of these cultural practices include feasting and gifting rituals, petroglyphing, body ornamentation, singing, dancing, drumming, weaving, basket making, and carving.

The report provides a very brief summary of some research evidence related to the relationship between the arts and health and then goes onto highlight the ways in which the arts can have particular importance for Aboriginal Peoples in many ways:
The arts can help with the healing of wounds related to a long history of colonisation and marginalisation, including residential schools.
When used as a means of communication in therapy settings, art can be an effective way of bridging the divide between primarily non-Indigenous health care systems and providers, and Indigenous world-views and understandings of health.
Creative and cultural expression can promote community strength and resilience, thereby helping to improve health.
The revival, practice, and expansion or exploration of culture has a profound effect on identity formation and solidification, and in turn, health and well-being.
The arts can help reduce the marginalisation often experienced by Aboriginal people when accessing health services.

Evidence Type: Literature Review

Main Focus: Community Development

Research Purpose: Literature Review

Context: Community

Art Forms: Multi-Arts

Access Type: Free Download

APA Citation:

Murihead, A. and de Leeuw, S. (2012). Art and Wellness: The Importance of Art for Aboriginal Peoples’ Health and Wellbeing. Australia:National Collaborating Centre for Aboriginal Health.