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A place I can just be me

DRASTIC  “A place I can just be me - even when I don’t know what that is” 

Libby Harward talks about the DRASTIC program and the impact it is having...

DRASTIC began as a partnership between Emma Cook and I in 1998 when we were both “young people”. It has run in different creative formats on the Gold Coast ever since. 

DRASTIC was born out of my own celebration of the arts and growing up. When I was young I was full of creative ideas that I didn’t always know how to realise. I needed safe spaces to express, to share stories and play with identity.  I was in great need of direction, confidence and unconditional love. Everywhere I turned for help seemed cold and my expression was squashed. I needed a space to express all the things that mattered to me in a system that didn’t speak to me and so often tried to speak for me.

My story could be told in many ways but I will I tell you I got lost. After a few years being lost I landed in a support service full of young people who felt just as lost as me. Fortunately the Director of this service was an advocate for the arts. She believed it was integral to our healing. She didn’t need an explanation or to understand how, she knew we needed to create for our own sanity. By fostering our creativity she taught us we already knew who we were and by showing us the world needed our creations she taught us our worth. This validation of the importance of my creative nature enabled my self- determined change and led to my drive to create the same opportunities for other young people.  I created DRASTIC. 

Today DRASTIC is a peer driven arts program for young people, run on the Gold Coast, facilitated by artists trained in trauma informed practice and young people trained as peer support leaders. DRASTIC utilises the arts and conversation to connect with and achieve exceptional outcomes for young people with complex needs including  experiencing mental health issues, substance use, engaged with the Juvenile Justice system and or outside of the education system. 

Photo of DRASTIC participants

Through ongoing evaluation we have identified eight key outcomes for young people involved in DRASTIC: 

  1. Improved motivation for self development 
  2. Decreased social anxiety 
  3. Greater community connection
  4. Improved employability skills or general life skills 
  5. Increased ability for positive socialising
  6. Increased coping strategies
  7. Re-engagement in education 
  8. An enhanced capacity of young people to support their peers around relating issues including mental health and current drug and alcohol knowledge 

2016 marks a really exciting transition for DRASTIC as I am handing the program over to the next generation. DRASTIC is taking a big step, out from underneath my business Creative Inclusive which gave it wings. The young people who will continue its legacy are young people who have grown up through DRASTIC. They love DRASTIC and want it to continue and be bigger and better than ever!

If you would like to support them please check out their crowdfunding campaign HERE:

Find Out more about DRASTIC and Creative Inclusive 

Creative Inclusive:



Libby HarwardLibby Harward is a Contemporary Indigenous Artist, Social Change Arts Worker and Creative collaborator living and working on The Gold Coast. She is the Creative Director of Creative Inclusive, and has extensive experience in the community sector with specialist skills in working with marginalized young people experiencing Mental health related issues. Libby is a descendent of the Ngugi people of Quandamooka (Moreton Bay). Libby has worked as an arts worker, coordinator, therapeutic artist, entrepreneur and trainer on a broad range of projects, predominantly with young people using theatre and visual arts. Her current Arts practice is exploring connection and relationship through with a focus on first Nation Knowledges as well as Neurobiology, Attachment and Trauma Integration. Her work is about relationships and connection with people, with country and with culture. She is extremely passionate about providing opportunities for people to explore their potential using strength based principles with a strong focus on inclusivity. Twitter :




DRASTIC logo artwork credit  – Libby Harward and Michael Burton

Photo Credits - DRASTIC participants