Festival for Healthy Living

  • Click here to view the 2015 FHL evaluation

    What is the "Festival for Healthy Living", or "FHL"?

    It's not usually what you'd think of as a Festival, but sometimes that's what comes out of it…

    It's certainly about Healthy Living, but it's not really about good food and diet and exercise (although that can help)…

    So what is the FHL about?

    It isabout doing all sorts of carefully selected artistic activities, in a very mindful way that helps us feel better about ourselves and to find creative solutions to life's challenges. Imagine students actively engaged in teams - with their teachers, health professionals, and performing and visual artists - to explore arts techniques including dance, drama, music, movement, role play, circus, mask-making, mosaic, multimedia, painting, puppetry and poetry! Imagine these teams using these techniques to explore mental health issues in highly creative, problem-solving, solution focused, health promoting ways and having fun at the same time… and producing performance and exhibition events combined with all the nearby schools to share and celebrate their diversity and common humanity.

    Imagine the opportunities this creates across the curriculum, at home and within the community, for conversations, skill-building and understanding how we can all build and maintain our emotional health and wellbeing!

    The Festival for Healthy Living (FHL) does all this and more. It is an exciting and innovative strategy, initiated by The Royal Children's Hospital Mental Health, which builds capacity in schools and communities for mental health promotion through the arts.

    Where has the FHL happened?

    The FHL program has been successfully implemented in 37 different communities since 1998, involving over 15,000 young people and their families, from 120 primary and secondary schools across Victoria, thanks to the combined efforts of more than 900 arts-workers, teachers and health professionals.

    Melton South FHL screenshot

    Melton South 2014-2017

    Video: “Melton South – Dream Big Festival September 2015”

    Since 2014 a diverse team of local and visiting artists have worked together with 400-700 students per year, across 8 school sites. A big partnership of local health agencies have also been involved, and since 2015 they have teamed up with the Linking Melton South community initiative to produce the annual Dream Big Festival.


    A Potted History of FHL screenshot

    A Potted History of the FHL from 1998-2013

    Video: “15 Years of FHL" - The First 15 Years

    A quick snapshot of the growth of the program - from humble beginnings in 1998, with just 2 schools - through to our 15th birthday celebrations in 2013, involving over 100 schools and 30 different communities.


    Robinvale and Euston FHL screenshot

    Surviving on the Murray River - Robinvale and Euston 2011-2014

    Video 1:

    ”REFHL March 2012” – working with local elders and artists, especially from Aboriginal and Pacific Islander community, to overcome tragic mental health issues by building respect, understanding and self-belief.

    Video 2:

    “Rainbow Snake Emerges” – local Aboriginal dancers perform at a festival in the middle of the main street, where hundreds of schoolkids put their

    Video 3:

    Colourful Cultures REFHL Book Launch” – local artists, teachers and young people responded to the theme of “Family” to create a memorable book which is officially launched by the CEO of the Murray Valley Aboriginal Cooperative

    Video 4:

    “REFHL 2013 - Reconciliation week” – two hundred students attend a unique intensive celebration of local Aboriginal culture, at the site of the famous annual Easter Camp, where the community once lived and thrived on fish, rabbits, local knowledge, skill and ingenuity.


    Artists Training Program FHL screenshot

    Artists Training Program 2008-2012

    Funded by the Australia Council for the Arts, over 70 FHL artists - with dozens of teachers and health professionals - created a terrifically imaginative set of resources for working in multi-disciplinary collaborations for better mental health outcomes


    Cathedral Ranges FHL screenshot

    Bushfire Recovery in the Cathedral Ranges 2009-2012

    Videos: “Cartwheels 2010” and “Cartwheels 2011”

    Following the tragic events of “Black Saturday”, the FHL team combined with Berry Street and almost 20 local artists in a sustained effort, forging an ultimately joyful creative path to psychological recovery in the Cathedral Ranges.


    Hopper Crossing FHL screenshot

    A Parent’s Insight, Hoppers Crossing 2009

    Video: “The Festival for Healthy Living – A Parents Insight”

    Explores the vital importance of the role of parents in helping their children (and themselves) to an increased sense of connectedness, both within the family and their community, sharing creativity and fun.


    Warracknabeal FHL screenshot

    Warracknabeal Goes off! 2008-2009

    This Western District town comes strongly together in the face of economic pressures and a shifting population, led by the irrepressible spirit of their children and young people… and some extraordinary images inspired by local artists and the senior Specialist School students.


    A: Warracknabeal 2008 – Who We Are (Lantern Procession)
    B: Warracknabeal 2008 – We Get Together
    C: Warracknabeal 2009 – Animation for the Street Carnivale Procession
    D: Warrack Shufflers - Dance Tracks and VJ Inspiration


    Pyramid Hill FHL screenshot

    Pyramid Hill 2006

    Video: from ‘FHL in the Media’ 7.30 Report 'Beating the Drought.. Pyramid Hill 2006

    This tiny rural community creates an uplifting celebration which brings together the WHOLE town.


    School staff talk about FHL screenshot

    School Staff talk about the FHL 2003-2006