A Ritual Theatre project delivered for Gold Coast Drug Council / Lives Lived Well – Mirikai Program.

(Yana Bullang in Yugamabeh Language means ‘Go Strong’).

Yana Bullang – STRONG WALK: The Rite of Passage Project was a therapeutic-arts based project delivered built  on the foundation of ritual. It combined theatre, culture and Therapy elements with trauma informed practice to create a holistic approach to working in community. Thanks to the support of Arts Queensland in 2015, Creative Director Libby Harward was able to employ a creative team of artists to contribute and collaborate with the residents in the therapeutic community, Mirikai. Artists Meredith Elton, Alicia Jones, Nina-Rae Smith, Jason Haggerty, Jacinda West & Luther Cora.

The role of ritual based theatre is given to residents to symbolize their journey from addiction to recovery and create meaning from their experiences. How we experience, play-out, feel & visualize the practice of ceremony and ritual in this day and age is highly important in our day-to-day lives and often goes unnoticed. Yana Bullang – STRONG WALK allowed space for the community to acknowledge this unique ceremony; a recovery journey shared by many but entirely unique to each and every person.

For someone who is recovering from addiction, engaging in arts, theatre or the practice of music-making allows for a new avenue of communication and self-reflection. When we first make the journey into recovery we often struggle with internal conflicts and difficulties, so having an alternative pathway to communication that still offers us a method of expression is incredibly beneficial to mindfulness and growth. No matter what artistic talent or experience we as individuals may possess, the role of arts in healing the collective trauma of drug and alcohol addiction is highly advantageous when applied appropriately and validated by surrounding peers or community.

The Rite of Passage was an annual event for Gold Coast Drug Council and It had it’s finale in 2015 due to an organisational restructure. The event had developed some hallmark status amongst Mirikai staff and local Gold Coast community members. The residents who have participants in the past projects often choose to come back and volunteer their time; offering their skills in arts, crafts, music and/or general event planning! There was a feeling about the Rite of Passage that no one could quite grasp unless one had participated in the event itself… its emotional, and it’s beautiful, and no one year’s Rite of Passage can be re-enacted the next year – it’s one of those “you have to be there” feelings…


‘This work enhances our therapeutic practices within the Rehab service, we often get bogged down by dealing with issues within the community and interpersonal relationship difficulties between clients we try but we do not always get to celebrate success as often as we would like, I found it very moving and a spectacular way to showcase the wonderful work we do how we are all affected and connected by healing people and saving lives.’ – Case Worker Mirikai.

‘This show was an incredible experience, not only was it visually amazing to watch – as amazing as shows I have seen at QPAC it was so very meaningful and I found myself deeply moved by it. My son was in it and I believe it was transformative for our whole family. I cannot really explain what happened but I felt very strongly moved and changed.’ – Father of Participant.

‘The Aboriginal component of the show felt real, it was like a handing over of a spiritual way of expressing through the body and a connection to something bigger. I feel after watching this performance like I got an understanding of what we have been through as a community and family in a way words cannot explain.’ – Mother of Participant.

‘The Rite of Passage was an amazing experience for me. The smoking ceremony was something I never thought I would experience in my life. I felt really moved by the passion the Aboriginal Artists had for their culture.’ – Male Participant, 28.