Art helps healing in our Sanctuary

SANCTUARY – Baptcare’s supported accommodation for people seeking asylum in Preston – held their second art exhibition of residents’ work in December.

The men at Sanctuary have fled desperate situations in the countries of their birth and many of them are suffering from the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder.

The art therapy service we provide at Sanctuary can have a unique role as an intervention tool with traumatised individuals.

Ravi* was unjustly imprisoned, tortured and sexually violated for four years in his home country because of his ethnicity. This has had a profound impact on his mental health.

He spent four years being moved around Australian detention centres and tried to take his life twice during this time.

He arrived at Sanctuary in Melbourne two years ago and now believes art therapy and poetry has helped save his life.

“When I came to Melbourne I had nothing and I was nothing, I thought I was zero,” Ravi said.

“I had been in Australian detention for four months and I couldn’t even speak English. I thought; how could I make anything?”

The group collaboration sessions are non-judgmental and invitational, with no pressure on participants to share stories and Ravi has felt his confidence grow in many ways.

“I never drew or painted in school and I didn’t think I could do it when I started, but every time you try something more and now I’ve painted maybe twenty paintings.”

“My English is improving too.”

Ravi’s paintings are bright, bold and beautiful with a sense of hope, something the artist and poet is starting to feel more of these days.

“I still don’t know what my visa situation will be or what the future will bring,” he said.

“Sometimes I have nightmares and I feel very sad, but I have much more happiness than I did two years ago.”

*Names have been changed