The Dax Centre
The Dax Centre is a leader in the use of art to raise awareness and reduce stigma towards mental illness. Through our exhibitions and educational programs we seek to engage, inform and encourage community connections and conversations about mental health.
The Dax Centre includes a gallery space, education programs and also houses the Cunningham Dax Collection.
In our Dax Centre Gallery we have an annual program of art exhibitions featuring works from the collection, new works specifically commissioned for our gallery and touring exhibitions. All of the works are created by people with a lived experience of mental illness and are curated to encourage community connections and conversations about mental illness and psychological trauma.
Our education programs run alongside the exhibitions and use the artworks and personal stories to engage secondary and tertiary students in a discussion about mental health and mental illness. The programs include a presentation by an advocate about their personal lived experience of mental illness and are designed to reduce stigma towards mental illness.
Our staff work closely with artists and communities who contribute their work and stories to our mission of raising awareness and reducing stigma towards mental illness. The Centre partners and collaborates with organisations that also share a common interest in improving mental health and reducing stigma by increasing understanding of mental illness and psychological trauma.
In April 2018 The Dax Centre merged with SANE Australia. The common goal of both organisations to reduce stigma and discrimination surrounding mental illness was a driving force for the merger.
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.