Happy New Year to Friends of the FHEAL Foundation

Happy New Year to friends of the FHEAL Foundation, and all best wishes for a great year ahead.

The school year has commenced, so the kids are hearing the clatter of classroom doors, feeling the weight of the lugging of over-filled bags, and anticipating  the fun and excitement of being among peers again. Our kids of refugee backgrounds tend to find the holidays too long, too boring, and too hot. So they are all smiles now that school is back, and especially happy to see their returned therapists as well. Some have lost a bit of their English during the long school holiday break, but they are keen to make up for lost time and get back into the learning. And the FHEAL therapists are busy sorting their timetables so every referred child is seen, and to allow for screening new arrivals as they come.

Hoping your 2017 is as full of satisfying challenge and learning as ours!


Jane    (Jane Griffin, CEO Friends of HEAL Foundation)

A Note From Friends of HEAL CEO – Jane Griffin

Dear Supporters and Friends of HEAL

Season’s Greetings to one and all!  What a wonderful six months we have had since I last wrote. Thanks for enabling some seriously important work with Creative Arts Therapy for refugee newcomers in Brisbane schools!

Our big news in August was winning the QLD Multicultural Award for “Services and Communities Award Organisation”


Of course it’s great to get an award, but it’s especially good to know that word is getting around about the great value of creative therapy to refugee newcomers. This assists with our master plan, to encourage schools to understand the great difference this work makes, which encourages them to advocate for it, and assist with finding funds for it…


Welcome Fest

October was fun with our involvement in WelcomeFest, a large Multicultural Festival – we took along the mobile art van “HEAL on Wheels” and provided free art activities for attendees.

This included messages for refugees which were written on post-its, and pegged to our Welcome Tree.

The pictures show some of our past students visiting FHEAL Board Member Janelle Paterson and Art Therapist Catherine Winlaw, on the day; the Welcome Tree, and some of the post-its people contributed.



We have been helping many young people from the various corners of the earth this year. They are referred by teachers because they are struggling with learning, or perhaps are withdrawn and appear sad, or are involved in peer conflict and lack self-control. They are from Syria, South Sudan, Iraq, Somalia, and Myanmar, to name a few countries of origin.

One Iraqi boy I met with last week spent some time sharing photos with me. They were before and after pics of his home. The “before” showed a middle-class style two story home with a fancy staircase and tiled kitchen. The “after” pic showed just rubble. His home was in Mosul, and was completely destroyed. However, his family were lucky enough to be brought here as refugees, and he is doing well at school, after some difficulty with peers. Having been referred to HEAL, he has been able to express his feelings and grief, something he prefers to do in private, and the HEAL space offers privacy and support.

Don’t forget, these kids do not want pity.  They are adolescents- they want acceptance, and great music, and good looking clothes!

Now with the help of therapeutic activities he has learned about his own emotional regulation, so that he is able to function more peacefully. This assists his learning, and improves the chances of a bright future in his new place here. You helped this happen, for him and many others.

The Board, including Chair Adele Rice, (pictured below) appreciate your support. FHEAL Services are happening at Milpera, Yeronga, Kedron, and Woodridge State High Schools, at Watson Road and Richlands East State Schools, and at St James College. Thank you to the anonymous donor who is funding the Watson Road work, that is indeed a generous gift to the refugee background children there. Thanks to MDA who are funding some of the Richlands East work. We have also provided service to ACCESS for their Community hubs this year, and provided staff development work in the corporate world. Thanks to our monthly donors who help to keep our service flourishing.


In the coming year we are planning to hold our annual lunch on Sunday May 21 (the perfect Mothers Day present, tickets for a lovely lunch a week after Mum’s Day), so please claim the date in your new  diary!

We are also hoping to be offering a QPAC Concert, as we had last year. Please keep an eye on our website for further news about these events.

Thanks for your assistance, whether it be via donation, or buying our online products, such as cards and colouring books (www.fheal.com.au), or just caring enough to be well-informed. We could not help these amazing kids without such support.

Enjoy some pics of present HEAL kids and a few grown-up ones plus friends :



Wishing you and yours all the best for a Happy Christmas time, and may you enjoy the peace which comes from knowing you are making a difference in the world, with thanks,

Jane    (Jane Griffin, CEO Friends of HEAL Foundation)

Increasing Peace Using Arts

Our CEO Jane Griffin was invited to write a Blog post for Arts QLD. See the resulting piece here. Read all about the Friends of HEAL and why what we do with your support is so important.

Art has the power to do many things including heal. In Queensland Mental Health Week, Jane Griffin, CEO of Friends of HEAL Foundation charity talks about arts programs which support young people of refugee backgrounds.

Arts Therapy and Music Therapy help ameliorate the effects of trauma, and assist with the difficulties encountered by young newcomers as they settle into a new country and attend school. The Friends of HEAL Foundation (FHEAL) is a unique charity providing Creative Arts Therapy in schools for traumatised refugee children in Queensland.

The challenge:
Young refugees arrive in Australia, having experienced intense hardship, such as war, refugee camp life, forced dislocation, deprivation, torture, trauma, and grief. For some, the journey to good settlement is difficult. They suffer the symptoms of trauma, feelings of anxiety and fear, inability to feel safe or to relax, difficulty with relationships, and cognitive problems affecting memory and learning ability.  CONTINUE READING

WelcomFest October 2 Annerly Soccer Fields


Come one, come all!!  FREE Entry.  Big fun celebration of multiculturalism at Annerly Soccer grounds.  Come along and get creative at the HEAL on Wheels van. It’s a great day out.

For more information see…….. https://mdaltd.org.au/welcomefest

QLD Multicultural Award Winners!

Great news! FHEAL was presented the QLD Multicultural Award the Saturday before last. Presented by MP Grace Grace during a great lunchaward-tile2

at the Logan Entertainment Centre, our Chair Adele Rice received it on our behalf. The actual award is a framed ceramic piece made by an African girl with great creativity. So appropriate!  Big thanks to our Board, our therapists, and our supporters in getting this award.

Thanks also to the Commonwealth Bank Staff Fund, who have granted us $5000 for a project at Woodridge State High School. Our Board Director, Lisa Siganto, accepted the cheque along with therapists Gayle Crisp and Judith Gordon.

FHEAL participated last Saturday in “Communities Together”, a free seminar day put on by the QLD Multicultural Council. There is always something exciting going on!

The Australian Childhood Foundation “Prosody” Trauma Conference

The week of 6-10 June has been devoted to attending an important conference in Melbourne: the Australian Childhood Foundation “Prosody” Trauma Conference. Speakers have included the flowing illuminates of the trauma field:

  • Emeritus Professor Judy Atkinson is a Jiman – Aboriginal Australian (from Central west Queensland) / Bundjalung (Northern New South Wales) woman, who also has Anglo-Celtic, and German heritage and works in trauma and Indigenous methods of healing.
  • Dr Dan Siegel is currently clinical professor of psychiatry at the UCLA School of Medicine where he is on the faculty of the Centre for Culture, Brain, and Development and the Co-Director of the Mindful Awareness Research Centre (Los Angeles, USA).
  • Vittorio Gallese is Professor of Human Physiology at the University of Parma, Italy with appointments in the departments of neuroscience, psychiatry and psychology. He is an expert in neurophysiology, neuroscience, social neuroscience, and philosophy of mind. He is one of the discoverers of mirror neurons.
  • Jonathan Baylin – Dr. Baylin received his doctorate in clinical psychology from Peabody College of Vanderbilt University in 1981. He has been working in the mental health field for 35 years.
  • Dr Dan Hughes has been a psychologist specializing in the treatment of children and youth with severe emotional and behavioural problems. His work has focused on children and youth who experienced developmental trauma and attachment disorganization along with their foster and adoptive families.
  • Pat Ogden Ph.D., is a pioneer in somatic psychology and the founder/director of the Sensorimotor Psychotherapy® Institute in Colorado (USA), an internationally recognized school specializing in somatic–cognitive approaches for the treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder and attachment disturbances.

And more! Amazing Conference, next on in 2018. The main message from all of the mega-brains sharing research and wisdom? We are all connected, and working through relationship is the way to recover from trauma.

Yes! The HEAL therapists are right on track!

A Big Thank You!

A big thank you to our supporters who have already snapped up all of the tickets to our annual lunch! This year we feast at “Caravanserai” at West End on May 15th, to celebrate another year of providing creative arts therapy to refugee young people in Brisbane.

120 friends of the Friends of HEAL will relax together over Turkish food, with the opportunity to win great great raffle prizes, such as a funky yellow adult’s bike provided by Ray White, a bubbly bottle of Verve Clique,or a beauty package for some lucky lady. See you there!

Big News!

Our work in the community was recognised at the United Nations Queensland Community Awards, where Friends of HEAL received a Meritorious Award for such work as assisting cultural integration of young refugee people.

Our Chairperson, Adele Rice, also received a Community Award for her years of dedication to young refugees as well as for developing Friends of HEAL Foundation and for the “Songs of Hope and Healing” event put on by QPAC.

‘FHEAL’ Good Event Makes Difference to Young Lives

Queensland Performing Arts Centre (QPAC) is proud to announce the results of a special fundraising event held in its Concert Hall on Friday 28 August 2015.
The Songs of Hope and Healing concert was presented by QPAC to raise funds for Brisbane’s Friends of the Home of Expressive Arts and Learning (FHEAL).
Formed in 2012, the Friends of Heal Foundation exists to provide creative arts therapy to young people of refugee backgrounds through the provision of mental health services and settlement assistance. FHEAL offers direct relief of suffering for many newly arrived young refugees through opportunities for cultural expression, connection and understanding.
QPAC Chief Executive John Kotzas said the concert, which brought Brisbane’s artistic community and popular guest soloists together, raised a total of $15,000.
“This heart warming concert not only showcased the extraordinary talent we have in our city, along with a wonderful youth choir from Christchurch New Zealand, it raised awareness and funds for the vital work that FHEAL does for newly arrived young refugee’s, many who have suffered unimaginable personal circumstances before coming to Australia.
“We are proud to have been able to support FHEAL in their endeavours and thank Songs of Hope and Healing audiences for their contribution to this great community outcome,” said Mr Kotzas.
FHEAL Chairperson Adele Rice said the Foundation was grateful for QPAC’s support.
“I would like to sincerely thank everybody at QPAC for taking to heart the work of our Foundation. We are passionate about our work with refugee young people and thrilled that the money raised at the concert will enable us to extend our services,” said Ms Rice.
FHEAL works to support young refugees in Brisbane including such services as HEAL (Home of Expressive Arts and Learning) at Milpera State High School, which has been providing creative therapy since 2004.Thanks to the work of the Foundation the service now also exists in other schools where there is a need. HEAL therapists work with young people who have endured traumatic experiences in their refugee journeys. The use of creative arts therapies including Arts Psychotherapy and Music Therapy has been shown to improve well being and settlement outcomes for these future young Australian citizens.
Songs of Hope and Healing featured an introduction by the Honourable Dame Quentin Bryce AD, CVO and Botswana born community leader Sharon Orapeleng as MC.
The concert showcased special guest singer and songwriter, LIOR and classical pianist Shan Deng and featured performances from QPAC Choir, Aurora Guitar Ensemble, Christchurch Youth Choir, Queensland Conservatorium Brass Band, The Boxties, and Gallipoli Choir; the combined choirs from St Joseph’s College Gregory, Terrace and All Hallows’ School. It also featured Dr Wei Dang pipa (a Chinese four stringed lute) soloist and musicians from Queensland Youth Orchestra.
For further information, images or interviews please contact: Cindy Ullrich, Publicity Manager QPAC ph (07) 3840 7589,
mobile 0434 366 038 or cindy.ullrich@qpac.com.au

Songs of Hope and Healing: More Than a Band-Aid

Walking into the Graceland concert at Brisbane Entertainment Centre years ago, I said how excited I was to be seeing Paul Simon live! An African friend questioned me in his sonic-boom voice, ‘Who is Paul Simon? I’m coming to see Miriam Makeba’.
There could have been similar confusion about the billing on Friday 28 August 2015 walking to the Songs of Hope and Healing benefit concert at QPAC. There were rusted-on Lior fans filing in side-by -side local support teams for The Galiipoli Choir and The Boxties to fill the Concert Hall. Musical tastes were certainly diverse. Yet the over-whelming sense I had was of an audience dedicated to the broader issue of the night—relief from distress for refugee adolescents.

There were moments when this commitment was palpable: like the audible hush when The Honourable Quentin Bryce talked about her experience of meeting children and their mothers in the dust of the African desert; the spontaneous applause when Adele Rice announced that Germany would not turn away refugees from Syria; and the appreciation of a personal testament shared by MC Botswana -born community leader, Sharon Orapleng. The audience could not help but be spell-bound by both the music and the stories of the night.

All praise should be heaped on QPAC, in particular CEO John Kotzas, for presenting this night of musical excellence. Songs of hope and healing were heard from the QPAC Choir, Christchurch Youth Choir, MDA Diversity Choir, Stuartholme Choir, The Gallipoli Choir under the experienced baton of Tim Sherlock with Brisbane schools St Joseph’s College Gregory Terrace and All Hallows, Aurora Guitar Ensemble, The Boxties, Queensland Conservatorium Brass, and musicians from the Queensland Youth Orchestra. The performances by acclaimed classical pianist Shan Deng and her father Dr Wei Dang on his pipa (a Chinese four-stringed lute) were thrilling. Knowing that Ms Deng is a past student of Milpera made her appearance even more potent.
All proceeds raised by the generosity of presenting artists and ticket buyers will support Friends of HEAL to continue their work providing relief from distress and education and cultural integration for refugee adolescents. It began at Milpera State High School and has been nurtured by the CEO of FHEAL Jane Griffin and Board Chair, Adele Rice AM. Both express their overwhelming gratitude for what they hope will be the first of such benefit concerts.
For more information about FHEAL and how you can contribute, please
Contact admin@fheal.com.au OR visit www.FHEAL.com.au
REVIEW by Belinda Macartney
• writing & editing • communications & marketing services
• M 0411 037377 • E belinda.macartney@bigpond.com