World Federation of Music Therapy (December Update from Australia and New Zealand)

I am pleased to share the following update from the Australia/New Zealand region.

We have many things to celebrate from our region!


Firstly, it’s lovely to see planning for Christmas parties and picnics beginning to take place ‘down under’. It’s very special that many of us are now able to meet in person with friends and loved ones, and a hopeful sign for the future. However, our thoughts are also with those who still need to remain separated due to illness, prevention measures, and other barriers.

I’m very excited to share the following successes!

Professor Katrina Skewes McFerran from the University of Melbourne has been recognised on The Australian’s Top 250 Researchers list as leader in ‘Music and Musicology’. The list names the best researchers and the best research institutions in Australia in 250 individual fields of research.

Professor Felicity Baker, also from the University of Melbourne, heads an international and cross-disciplinary research initiative called HOMESIDE, examining the effects of music therapist delivered intervention for people living at home with dementia and their family care partners. The large-scale project has just reached a recruitment milestone of 350 dyads! And researchers at the Anglia Ruskin University in the UK who are partners in this initiative, have been awarded the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for its world-leading music therapy work and research with people living with dementia, and their families. The Queen’s Anniversary Prize recognises outstanding work by UK universities and colleges that shows the highest levels of quality and innovation and delivers significant public benefit. During Dementia Action week the AMTA highlighted publications related to the project, in the national media.

Tanya Marie Silveira has been awarded the inaugural Australian Music Therapist of the year for 2020/2021. Tanya is extremely passionate about advocating for music therapy particularly in the field of stroke survival.

Registrants from all around the world enjoyed the very successful Australian Music Therapy Virtual Conference in October. As promised, the theme to “Amplify, Integrate and Evolve” motivated music therapy clinicians, researchers, service providers, and service users, to reflect, debate, and embrace the innovative changes that have occurred in music therapy in recent times.

Dr Emma O’Brien from Australia is receiving well-deserved acclaim for her work with the Royal Melbourne Hospital’s Scrub Choir. The virtual choir has now joined forces with other health workers from across the United Kingdom, Ireland, Norway, and Japan to launch Scrub Choir Plus. Listen to their amazing music on Spotify!

Dr Vicky Abad has been made an Honorary Life Member of the Australian Music Therapy Association in recognition of her outstanding and significant contribution to AMTA and the music therapy profession both nationally and internationally.

The Victorian Government has just committed a new $200 million Schools Mental Health Fund to support mental health needs of students in Vic Govt schools. Registered Music Therapists have been included in the Schools Mental Health Checklist as one of the Additional Mental Health and Well Being Professionals and will be funded to provide mental health supports to Victorian school students when required.

Music Therapy New Zealand were delighted to note that the recently released NZ Autism Spectrum Disorder Guidelines supplementary paper on the effectiveness of music therapy now recommends that “Music therapy can enhance social communication skills and should be considered for children and young people on the autism spectrum”. This is an important breakthrough which is likely to have a significant impact on children’s access to music therapy in New Zealand.

Music Therapy New Zealand’s Webinar 2021 series was completed with very successful presentations focused on ‘Music therapists with Lived Experience of Disability, Neurodivergence, and Chronic Physical & Mental Health Conditions’: ‘Neuro Choirs in Aotearoa New Zealand: Music Therapists’ Perspectives & Approaches’; and ‘Our Journeys as Music Therapists: Asian Perspectives’.

Music Therapy Week in New Zealand was a stunning success. Music therapists featured on prime-time news programmes (The Project; Seven Sharp), were interviewed for radio broadcasts and other publications, and facilitated public events in their communities and online. Throughout the week music therapists posted pictures of themselves wearing their Music Therapy New Zealand tee-shirt, as they went about the daily work. Each day our website featured a short ‘BiteSize’ video clip which introduced an aspect of music therapy. Finally, MThNZ held a series of online chat sessions, during which people could ask music therapists questions about music therapy with people living in aged care and with dementia; people at end of life in palliative care; people in neurorehabilitation; people with disabilities; and people living with mental health and wellbeing challenges.

On14th October music therapists in Australia and New Zealand joined our international colleagues to celebrate Allied Health Professionals Day, to acknowledge and appreciate all the amazing work that music therapists and their allied health colleagues are doing, around the world.



Collaborating with Allied Health Professionals also enables us to contribute effectively to systemic change. For example, this year AMTA joined forces with other allied health professionals to oppose the proposed ten-year plan (2022-2032) for Australia’s Primary Health Care programme requesting greater focus on allied health. And in New Zealand, on Allied Health Professionals Day, representatives of Music Therapy New Zealand were able to participate in an online meeting with the NZ Minister of Health to discuss future opportunities for Allied Health professionals within a reformed Health and Disability System.

AMTA's Chief Executive Officer (Bridgit Hogan) has been appointed a Committee Member of the Stakeholder Engagement Group (SEG) evaluating the Medical Benefits Scheme (MBS) Funded Better Access (Mental Health). Bridgit has been working hard to ensure funded psychological therapies within MBS include Registered Music Therapists. Bridgit will be in a good position to further this work as a member of the SEG.

AMTA is also monitoring and responding to the Joint Standing Committee on the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), which is inquiring into the implementation, performance, and governance of the NDIS.

Finally, the AMTA is monitoring the development of the National Safety and Quality Mental Health (NSQMH) Standards for Community Managed Organisations (CMOs). The NSQMH Standards for CMOs will help provide safety and quality assurance for community mental health service users, and best practice guidance for service providers and developers. The consultation closes in mid-January.


Professional Development

A wide range of exciting and helpful webinars are on offer for music therapists including:

  • Working with the NDIS: Music therapy documentation and best practice webinar for small business. 2 December 2021
  • “Connecting to Country: Re-imagining Myths of Place and Belonging”. Offered by the Music and Imagery Association of Australia. 10 October 2021
  • Introduction to Jungian Music Psychotherapy, facilitated by Joel Kroeker, 9 December 2021
  • The Rights of the Child Symposium will bring together leading experts across the public, private and government sectors to discuss how we can collectively work to improve children's safety during the pandemic and beyond. 22 March 2022
  • The International & Interdisciplinary Network will discuss the role of music — music listening as well as music-making — in supporting people’s developmental or health needs, including physical and mental health, cognitive and behavioural development, and interpersonal relationships. Discussions will encompass a broad range of musical care practices, from private experiences to public ones, from all over the world. Online meetings are scheduled for 18 and the 21 January 2022


Covid-19 response

AMTA and MThNZ are regularly sharing COVID 19 updates from their respective governments with members, via social media as soon as they come to hand.


  • AMTA Vice President (Dr Libby Flynn) and Secretary (Kathy Butcher) have completed their terms on the Board. AMTA welcomes Clare Kildea (Secreary) and Allison Fuller (Vice President).
  • On 15 September, AMTA engaged Association Professionals as their new Secretariat to oversee daily operations and administration.
  • MThNZ Executive Officer Lara Burke has left her position as Executive Officer. Inquiries can still be made to



In my previous blog I reported that I presented a paper to the Music Therapy New Zealand 2021 symposium to remind participants about the primary aims of the World Federation, the variety of work the WFMT undertakes, and how members might be able to contribute. The paper has now been published in the New Zealand Journal of Music Therapy and can be accessed at I look forward to increasingly enriching collaborations with members of our communities.

In the meantime, I wish everyone a very peaceful and healthy holiday season.