Cath Rutten & Michelle Zemancheff

Nillumbik Shire Council

Cath RuttenCath Rutten has a Bachelor of Performing Arts from Monash University and a Graduate Diploma of Arts Management from Deakin University. She has worked for the last twenty-five years in the Arts sector both as a performer and a community cultural development worker. Prior to her current stint in local government she worked for the Koori Heritage Trust as a project officer and before that indulged her passion for gender based development as Communications Coordinator for International Women’s Development Agency. Alongside her role as Bushfire Arts Officer for Nillumbik Shire Council she is currently coordinating a VicHealth funded project which engages the broader Nillumbik community in arts based activities by delivering 52 Flashmobs in 52 Weeks. She is a firm believer in the arts for everyone and can often be heard encouraging anyone and everyone to “have a go…it’s good for you!”

Michelle ZemancheffMichelle Zemancheff,  is currently undertaking Master of Arts (Arts Management) at RMIT and has a Bachelor of Fine Arts (With Distinction) (RMIT). Having had an arts practice in fine art photography, Michelle enjoys a professional career as Cultural Development Officer for Nillumbik Shire Council.  She is particularly interested in the relationship between the arts and crisis recovery, which has been a major topic for her Masters research.  Complimenting that research, Michelle’s role at Nillumbik has involved the facilitation of arts projects for bushfire-affected primary schools, together with cultural development in a community arts and cultural services setting.

Bushfire Recovery Arts in Schools Program

The bushfire recovery art in schools program has evolved from Nillumbik Shire Council’s core bushfire recovery arts program. The program takes a non-invasive approach to recovery in that it decentralises the subject of the bushfire from the activities at hand.

Outcomes evaluation
Council officers have taken an alternative approach to evaluation due to the burden of documentation on the fire affected communities. Processing insurance, compensation, rebuilding and recovery processes have resulted in an overwhelming level of exhaustion within the community. As a response, Arts Officers have moved away from formalised program evaluation in a concerted effort not to re-traumatise a child or family for the sake of completing a form. Outcomes of the program have been reported anecdotally to council staff and this process has been supported by reports and informal discussions with individual families, parents, schools, community groups, Recovery Committees and other service providers.

In addition to relationships with individual children and families, officers have also liaised with community organisations where children participate in extra-curricular activities. These places were central to community activity prior to the bushfires and activity had dropped off significantly after the fires. The uptake of generalised activities was in part a result of the art in schools program as parents and teachers reported increased motivation from students to re-engage on a wider level. The evaluation of the schools program continues to be flexible and informal. We value the professional expertise of school principals, teachers, artists and arts therapists in their recognition of improvements in the student’s recovery. Considered observation, ongoing communication and responsiveness to advice have been vital tools in the design, delivery and evaluation of the program.

Download Presentation



Kitka Web Design