Since its inception, the Creativity and Wellbeing Hallmark Initiative has been committed to research exploring wellbeing and healthy ageing. This thematic focus has centred on considering how creative activities in older age can maximise cognitive and emotional functions; bolster identity; foster social connections and intellectual growth; and augment personal and social resilience. As part of this commitment, CAWRI has funded the following projects.

Through their lenses: Creativity, wellbeing and women's experiences of ageing

A/Prof. Cathy Vaughan, Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences, Dr. Lila Moosad, Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences, Prof. Martha Hickey, Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences, and Prof. Jane Davidson, Faculty of Fine Arts and Music.

Active participation in the creative arts offers women ways to counteract negative narratives about ageing. The Through their lenses study used women's creative participation in the Victorian 500 Strong photography project to explore their experiences of wellbeing and ageing. In 500 Strong women over fifty posed for nude or semi-nude photographs using props and stances of their choice. The study was part of the wider Flesh after Fifty project to promote positive images of older women in art. Through in-depth interviews, 18 women reflected on their creative participation in the photography shoot and how creative engagement contributed to their wellbeing and ageing. The study identified the complex and intersecting factors that shaped the processes of ageing and proposed that creativity had an important role to play in ageing and wellbeing.  This project ran from June 2019 to June 2020 and received CAWRI seed funding.


A presentation by Dr. Lila Moosad about this project is contained in this symposium and can be found here.


FUTURE PRESENT: Co-designing a digital legacy with older adults

Wendy Cavenett, Melbourne School of Engineering


FUTURE PRESENT draws on Human Computer Interaction research that explores ways technology supports the wellbeing of people as they age and approach end of life. Older adults are engaged in reflecting on life, and future life, through the co-design of a digital legacy artefact for a public installation. The project uses creative methods (participant-generated photographs, audio recordings, and reflective responses to prompts) to better understand how older adults feel about their lives and the worlds they want to leave behind. A CAWRI PhD top-up grant enabled Wendy Cavenett to expand her participant pool by 10. 


Looking for the gold: A critical ethnographic study using drama therapy to explore voice, agency and power at the intersection of private and public in aged care.


Maya Ercole, Faculty of Fine Arts and Music


Looking for the gold investigates the voices of older people living in residential care using drama therapy. As recognised by the Royal Commission, aged care appears to serve the needs of organisations rather than the older individuals who live in these facilities. This project is both critical and innovative because it provides a powerful avenue, through dramatherapy, where older people living in aged care can voice their experiences and be heard. COVID-19 hampered this project’s progress, and a CAWRI PhD top-up grant mitigated against this by providing Maya Ercole with time-saving tools

Images: Unsplash