Kewdale: Australian Islamic College showcasing art by Syrian refugee students


Teachers James Atkins and Sam Cavallaro (standing, back) with art teachers Tina Mastrantonio, Amelia Joseph and Mohamed Moha (front) and some students. Picture: Jon Hewson
Teachers James Atkins and Sam Cavallaro (standing, back) with art teachers Tina Mastrantonio, Amelia Joseph and Mohamed Moha (front) and some students. Picture: Jon Hewson

YOUNG Syrian students at the Australian Islamic College (AIC) will share their experiences as refugees in a public art exhibition on Thursday .

As part of the AIC’s visual arts program, students recently arrived in Australia are taught art therapy to help them deal with the trauma they have experienced as refugees.

Mohammad Alabd said he had always been interested in the arts and found it rewarding to be able to paint or draw in the classes.

“I am happy to have friends in school as well as close to home, there is a family close by I can visit and (my brothers and I) play with them in the park sometimes,” he said.

Recently arriving in Australia from refugee camps in Lebanon and Jordan, most of the students are learning English, making it difficult to communicate.

However, they have found a way to express themselves through art

One group of seven students has worked together to create a mural depicting their journey from their war-ravaged homeland, to refugee camps before arriving in Australia only a few months ago.

Art teacher Amelia Joseph said being creative was a form of self-expression and could help to enhance communication and relationships.

“Through the art therapy each of my students (becomes) a tool for self healing, as art can be used as an active form of mediation,” she said.

Children who have been affected by war are vulnerable to developing psychological problems such as post traumatic stress disorder, depression and anxiety at a much higher rate than their peers.

Art therapy has been found to be effective when conducted in groups of schoolchildren where there may be a language barrier and helps them to process emotional turmoil, increase self-esteem and coping mechanisms and reduce anxiety.

The mural will feature in the exhibition along with more student art, Islamic art and paintings, sculptures, ceramics and prints.

The exhibition is open to the public at the Australian Islamic College Kewdale, 139 Presidents Street, Kewdale.