6-13th October 2024
Celebrating National Mental Health Week
on the Surf Coast

Our Mission

Art of the Minds aims to activate, educate and engage the Surf Coast and wider community to creatively manage mental health and wellbeing. 

Our festival message throughout October and coinciding with National Mental Health Week, is aimed at reducing stigma and normalising the experience of mental illness across all ages and demographics of the population.


Art of the Minds is passionate about sharing resilience-focused messages by reinforcing through creative education platforms, that Hope is central to the recovery of all mental wellbeing challenges.


We focus on the importance of community connections, by attracting like-minded individuals to not only attend our events but also share positive lived experiences of mental wellbeing management.

Our 5 C’s!  Celebrating Creative Community Conversations & Connections in mental wellbeing.



Our mission is achieved through a week of interactive events across the Surf Coast Shire in which Art of the Minds focuses on creative conversations through a festival, showcasing both local and visiting artists, individuals and groups.


The festival welcomes people of all ages to join creative educational conversations around mental wellbeing, both from a support and personal management perspective as well as their own mental wellbeing 


Our signature events include:
– Official Shire launch on World Mental Health day 10th October
– Charity Ball for Foundation61
– Community art exhibition
– Surf Coast Song Contest
– Education seminars supported by professional education and mental health services
– Wellbeing weekend of yoga, Qi gong, mediation, and music.

Local creatives, services and retail businesses are engaged to support community involvement in all activities, with an emphasis also on attracting visitors to the region.

Our Focus

Art of The Minds has evolved into a powerful community conversation centred on mental wellbeing. Showcasing the brilliant talents of Surf Coast and regional artists, individuals and groups in a week full of community-based activities. This project forges connections with all community members from young to old. Through creative art-based conversations, ranging from theatre, song, visual arts, music, yoga, sound, sport events with a twist, and an exciting education event, this festival gives our community the right to talk about mental illness, and the responsibility to support one another in this journey.

Our Fabulous Committee


Jules Haddock

The Anxious Bird


Sarah Molnar


Ken Baxter


David McCusker


Mollie Vaughan

Wellbeing officer

Cobie Higgins

General Members

Ann McCormack Brad Luke
Julia Clarke
Lyn McCusker
Rebecca Warren Vanessa Mollard


From humble beginnings

Jules Haddock held a solo sculpture exhibition and launched her Lived Experience story book, The Anxious Bird. “The Mental Pop up Evening“ at BOOM Gallery Geelong saw a host of her performing friends and a Beyond Blue Ambassador pop up with song, dance, poetry reading, crowd yoga moves, chicken dancing and more. Education was the theme on how the arts keep our minds well and assist many in recovery from mental illness. 

The Anxious Bird – headed by Jules Haddock received a grant from The Surf Coast Shire to gather 20 artists to exhibit during the second week of October, which was National Mental week. As a result, several individual artists, and paid art therapist, were involved, with pieces being submitted by Salvos Connect, Foundation 61, Geelong Clinic and The Parkinson painting group, to name a few. In all, 60 artists were involved in this community awareness raising event at Eagles Nest Gallery. As an appendage to this celebration of healthy minds and recovery, the artists were invited to a night of education centred on mental illness. This was a free community event attended by 70 people at The Spring Creek Community House, Torquay.

Saw an exciting week of events from a live theatre dinner show, children’s street art activities, open mike event, an award-winning play called The Hope Song (later going on to play at the La Mama Theatre Melbourne), a half day education seminar, a family fun yoga event, art competitions and more. This micro festival received excellent press coverage, and extensive community involvement in all activities.

Developments saw a major shift, with Art of The Minds becoming an incorporated, not for profit charity. Supported by The SurfCoast Shire, and the Bendigo Bank- Torquay Community Enterprise, new events were created in expanding the community reach. Once again, the Surf Coast Shire acknowledged our event as the official launch of mental health week, opened by the Mayor. With preceding years of success and growth further supporters have sought to be involved in Art of the Minds month and in maintaining a sustainable community model and ownership of creative education around mental illness. These have included the likes of;
RACV, Barwon Health Community Health, Barwon Health Carers, IMPACT- Deakin University Researchers, Support After Suicide, Foundation 61, Barwon Water, BoardRiders, Ocean Mind, Seaire Yoga, Torquay College, Peppers Resort – The Sands, The Anxious Bird, This Is My Reality, GMHBA, genU Training, Spirit Earth Yoga & Massage, Sand Whisperers, Community and residential supporters.

2019 – Onwards & Upwards
The 2019 Art of the Minds Festival was a great success! The festival grew from 18 events in 2018 to 29 events in 2019, the biggest program in the history of AotM. The program had broad appeal for locals and visitors of all ages and from all walks of life. Most events were sold out in advance, had high attendance rates, and received positive feedback and significant media attention. 

This was the first year where Art of the Minds was approached by reputable individuals, organisations and programs that wished to be a part of Art of the Minds conversation and the bigger Festival picture, contributing to but also officially recognising and endorsing the value of the Art of the Minds Festival.

Last but certainly not least, Art of the Minds was selected as a Finalist for the ‘Regional Development Victoria Leadership and Innovation Award’ in what can only be described as a positive step for mental health awareness, and our festival moving forward. We were extremely thrilled to have been recognised in going above and beyond the expected reach of our Mission and Objectives for the 2019 Festival.

2020 – The Show Must Go On!

Well, what a year! Needless to say, the 2020 Art of the Minds was not spared from the impact of Covid-19. 

Thanks to the incredible support of the festival’s event hosts, which consist of local volunteers, industry professionals, and businesses/training organisations, most events were adapted to be delivered online. Luckily, only a few had to be cancelled.

Under unprecedented conditions, the festival was prepared and successfully delivered thanks to a very nimble, dedicated, and innovative team of volunteers and supporters. By offering 30+ events throughout the month of October, the Art of the Minds Festival educated and engaged the Surf Coast and wider community on a range of mental health and wellbeing-related topics. 

2021 – The Show Returned

Soldering on through Covid, we delivered a month-long festival, jam-packed with events, many of which were held online. Community connections, education and celebrating our amazing community were at the centre of our festival message. 

2022 –  What a Week!

This festival returned with jam-packed program, featuring 25 events in just ONE WEEK!

Art exhibitions, yoga and wellness retreats, live music events, a jungle dance, kids programs, a ball and a variety of education events provided lots of opportunities for festival attendees to gain a deeper understanding of mental health, illness and how to seek support.

How do people learn about mental illness & wellbeing through Art of the Minds?

Art of the Minds acknowledges evidence-based research in the planning of all events, with particular focus towards creative recovery.  We strongly emphasise The Peer Support Model where a person with a lived experience shares a story in supporting a person experiencing a mental illness, or who maybe worsening. This has proven to be powerful in encouraging disclosure of symptoms and experiences people would ordinarily hide, and then be affected by. In recent years, the psychiatric hospitals and Mental Health services employ people with a lived experience who understand the Recovery Model of wellness, reflecting the growing awareness of the holistic factors in the Bio-psychosocial model of mental health cause, prevention and recovery. 

The Arts has always stood as an excellent vehicle of expression for feelings and emotions that are sometimes difficult for people to discuss, especially considering the stigma associated with mental illness. Our festival creates a great sense of safety, and connection to others, as mental illness is an illness that can stifle voices and creates further isolation.

Our festival also educates participants about mental illness, as to recover from any illness, in this case a mental illness, one needs to know what you are recovering from in order to heal. Knowledge is power in Recovery.

Our education approach is not only enjoyable to the senses, but cultivates a cultural shift for our community that it is not only ok to experience a mental illness, there is hope in recovery and people to assist you in managing mental wellbeing creatively.