The Dax Centre
The Dax Centre provides artists with lived experience of mental health issues opportunities for creative expression while fostering social change by expanding the public’s awareness of mental illness and breaking down stigma through art.
Our mission: to advance the understanding of mental health issues and reduce stigma through ART.
Founded in 2012, but with a history spanning back to the 1940’s, The Dax Centre is the premier gallery and education centre of it’s kind in Melbourne.
We work with emerging artists with lived experience of mental health issues, providing a safe and supportive environment for the artists to exhibit their work, develop their art practice and raise the public’s awareness of these artist’s important cultural contributions.
We deliver education programs to secondary and tertiary students that inspire young people, expand their understanding of mental health issues and break down stigma.
Through our exhibitions and educational programs we engage, inform and encourage conversations about mental health through art.
We challenge stigma towards mental health issues and start conversations that advance the understanding of mental health issues and build empathy.
We are the custodians of the Cunningham Dax Collection of art, one of only four collections of its kind in the world and the only Collection of it’s size and type in Australia.
The Dax Centre is proudly part of the SANE Australia Group
The Dax Centre Ltd is a not-for-profit company limited by guarantee with charitable/DGR status. All donations over $2 are tax deductible. You can find out more about how to support our work here.
The Dax Centre is named after Dr. Eric Cunningham Dax, AO (1908 – 2008), a world-renowned psychiatrist who was the Chair of the Victorian Mental Hygiene Authority from 1952 to 1969. Dr. Dax is credited with being one of the first psychiatrists in the world to see the potential in utilizing art for promoting better health for people living with mental illness. He instigated the collection of works during this time and at the end of his tenure had accumulated 9000 works.
The Dax Centre was established in the early 1990s as an education facility to promote mental health through art. Today, the Dax Centre’s work includes displaying the works of the Cunningham Dax Collection, conducting education programs based in exhibitions, and curating and maintaining the Collection to museum standards. This Collection of over 16,000 artistic works produced by people with a lived experience of mental illness or psychological trauma, includes works created at Victoria’s psychiatric hospitals during the 1960s-1980s, and more recently through community programs or within artists’ own studios.
The Cunningham Dax Collection is the only one of its kind and size in Australia, and only one of three collections in the world. It is the only heritage-listed art collection in Australia.
In April 2018 The Dax Centre merged with SANE Australia, a national mental health charity promoting the wellbeing of the four million Australians affected by complex mental illness, which includes schizophrenia, bipolar, personality disorders, eating disorders, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and severe and enduring mood and anxiety disorders. The common goal of both organisations is to raise awareness of mental illness and its consequences and ramifications with an aim to reduce stigma and discrimination surrounding mental illness. This goal was a driving force for the merger. The merger provides new opportunities to grow The Dax Centre’s programs in Victoria and nationally.