Afloat – children and families community resilience art project

After the flood that  impacted many communities across Greater Hobart in May 2018, the City of Hobart embarked on a mission to help Hobartians prepare for potential natural disasters in the future with the financial support from the Australian and Tasmanian governments under the Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements.

With the aim of building strong, connected communities of people who look after each other in times of crisis, the City developed a set of projects designed to equip residents with tools to get ready for, respond to and recover from disruptions to normal living.

One of the projects – Afloat – came to life after childcare centres, school staff and parents from South Hobart shared with the City their experiences during the flood and the impact it had on their community.

Taking a creative pathway and following the Creative Recovery Network’s lead, the Afloat project engaged professional artists to work with children, families and educators using play as a means to help children deal with change, adversity and the associated feelings.

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Artists Leigh Tesch and Rosie McKeand delivered eight creative recovery workshops for children aged 3-6 and two professional development workshops for parents and educators. The workshops offered drawing, model-making, music, storytelling and movement based on the topic of the Rivulet. These activities offered ways to build awareness of change and connect the children with their environment – building a sense of place and belonging. 

The workshops culminated with an anniversary event on the Rivulet in South Hobart to celebrate the community’s resilience and strength of spirit, and support the ongoing process of recovery.

The event provided an opportunity for people to reconnect, share stories and offer each other support one year on from the flood. A range of creative activities were available for children and families such as art, music, recycling, storytelling, communal feasting and a community procession. The Red Cross and State Emergency Services presence provided the community a safe space to talk about emergency preparedness and safety. The Lord Mayor, Councillor Anna Reynolds opened the event with words of compassion and encouragement. 

To extend and share the Afloat project’s creative process to others, the City has developed a resource booklet(PDF, 5MB) for parents and educators about children’s creative recovery. It explores how art and storytelling can be applied to build children’s resilience and capacity to cope with an ever-changing environment. The booklet also contains links to state and national resilience and recovery resources.