Colourful response to the drought

Longreach SHS murals

Longreach Shire in Central West Queensland, has been drought-declared since January 2014, which has affected this connected community, with less discretionary funding available both within families, and in the businesses that often support community-led initiatives. This means that opportunities and experiences around the 'nice to have' things, like creative arts, which can bring so much joy, are often few and far between.

The Longreach State High School supports the education of 179 students, 35 percent of whom are in the bottom quartile of the Index of Community Socio-Educational Advantage. Around 13 percent of the students who attend the school are Indigenous.

Despite the challenges, Longreach State High School recognised the value in providing creative experiences for students and sought support from FRRR to help engage 'The Sauce Studio' (TSS), a nationally-recognised mural artist and qualified youth worker with extensive public art and project development experience. The aim was to co-create a series of large-scale artworks involving community members and students as a way to celebrate the local culture and environment.

Workshops with approximately 60 students and community members were conducted over two weeks to paint the murals, which cover approximately 165m2 around Longreach, including at the skate park and youth centre, along with Longreach State High School. The artworks highlight the values and characteristics of the early pioneers and outback legends that personify resilience, innovation, endurance and creativity.

Creating the murals brought together a wide and diverse range of people from within the community and also provided valuable skill development for emerging artists, with the result promoting tourism and community identity. The project was funded through FRRR's Tackling Tough Times Together program, thanks to the generosity of the Qantas Foundation and Tim & Gina Fairfax.

The events also offered local community-based organisations that were involved in the project a way to connect with people experiencing mental health issues in a non-threatening environment, creating closer links between those people and support services.

The overall result is a brighter outlook for everyone, despite the ongoing drought.

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