How to foster resilience in higher visual art education: Viewpoints from the students

Eileen Siddins (James Cook University), Professor Ryan Daniel (James Cook University), Professor Margaret Anne Carter (Australian College of Applied Psychology), Doctor Beryl Buckby (James Cook University)
2020 Conference

The potential for Australian universities to fortify their students’ wellbeing cannot be overlooked. As mental health difficulties increase within the Australian population, now is the time for universities to proactively support and sustain their students’ resilience in preparation for study and work challenges. However, in the visual arts, there is still limited consideration of student opinions on this matter. In 2018 and 2019, the Visual Arts Wellbeing (VAW) research project explored the wellbeing needs of visual art students in Australian universities. This research gathered student perspectives on how university life influences their ability to thrive, and how universities can enhance visual art students’ resilience and mental health while they are enrolled in their university degree. The recommendations that emerged from these research findings presented clear strategies to improve art students’ wellbeing, including ways for art students, educators, and industry members to foster inclusivity and nurture a sense of belonging. This paper provides a general overview of the VAW research findings, with a focus on digital strategies to enhance visual art students’ connectedness with their fellow artists.

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About the author

Eileen Siddins

Eileen Siddins is a doctorate candidate who has interest in enhancing art students’ wellbeing and resilience within higher education settings. Her research is published by the International Journal of Innovation, Creativity and Change, Journal of Arts & Humanities and the Australian Council of Arts & Design Schools. You can find more information about her research at


Professor Ryan Daniel

Professor Ryan Daniel is a senior researcher in creative arts and creative industries at James Cook University, Australia. His research is published in Creativity Studies, Creative Industries, International Journal of Cultural Policy, Arts and Humanities in Higher Education, CoDesign, Music Education Research and the British Journal of Music Education.


Professor Margaret Anne Carter

Professor Margaret Anne Carter started her career in education as a teacher and moved from the classroom to work as a Special Education Consultant and Senior Guidance Counsellor, before setting up her private practice as a change specialist. Margaret’s career in higher education, both in Singapore and Australia, includes teaching, academic leadership, community service and research. In 2017, Margaret was awarded the National Citation for Outstanding Contribution to Student Learning, and she has published in many research areas including teaching and learning in higher education, resilience and mental health and wellbeing, preventing cyberbullying, young childrens’ social behaviour and character education in early childhood.


Doctor Beryl Buckby

Doctor Beryl Buckby is a Clinical Psychologist teaching and supervising in the Clinical Psychology Program at James Cook University for the past sixteen years, where she coordinates “Mental Health Disorders across the Lifespan.” Over that time, Beryl has supervised multiple Honours, Masters of Clinical Psychology, and been on the supervisory team for two PhD research projects, as well as teaching and supervising students’ professional practice skills. Beryl has a specific interest in researching Interprofessional collaboration and practice to enhance outcomes in student learning that informs students’ future practice with patients and clients as well as preparing them with knowledge and understanding of other health and social care professions. Beryl has also been an active member of the Australian Mental Health in Higher Education Conference since 2017 which epitomizes Interprofessional collaboration in planning and programming.