How Open Doors’ art therapy program is helping Queensland LGBTIQ youth

open doors youth service pride art therapy program anz mardi gras mikarla teague
Photo: Jordan Hirst

Open Doors Youth Service’s popular art therapy program has received a community grant from ANZ and Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.

The Pride Art Therapy Program helps LGBTIQ+ Sistergirl and Brotherboy young people express themselves and improve their mental health, resilience and social connectedness.

Mikarla Teague (pictured, fourth from left) is the program’s Arts Therapist, and she said the $7500 grant will ensure it continues into 2020.

She said the program is the first of its kind in Australia and has now reached over 4,500 young people.

“I developed the program in 2017, basically to provide art therapy as an alternative form of therapy,” Mikarla told

“It really resonates with young people. There’s lots of studies coming out showing, especially for teenagers, that art therapy is really beneficial for them.

“We’ve gotten lots of feedback that the program has been transformational and really changed their lives.

“It wouldn’t have continued without their feedback and direction on what they want to do, and how they’re going on their journeys.”

Mikarla started at Open Doors as a volunteer but was able to offer the program more regularly after getting a grant.

Last year, during the Brisbane Pride Festival, the young people put on an art exhibition to fundraise for the program.

“The exhibition was also a form of therapy in itself for the young people. They put their work up on display and it allowed them to tell their stories,” Mikarla said.

“Unfortunately, it’s the only program that’s not funded at Open Doors. So we’re constantly applying for grants and trying to find that funding,” she said.

“We want to say thank you to ANZ and Mardi Gras for supporting us and believing in our work.”

Representatives from ANZ met with Mikarla and Open Doors Youth Service staff this week (pictured) to congratulate them on their work.

Open Doors Youth Service is based in Fortitude Valley. The service offers support to all LGBTIQ+ Sistergirl & Brotherboy young people aged 12-24 across south-east Queensland.

To get in touch with them, visit their website here.

Open Doors one of twelve community groups sharing grant money

The annual ANZ and Mardi Gras grants are available to LGBTIQ+ groups nationwide to fund their work in education and training, community development, or arts and culture.

Twelve recipients shared a total of $100,000 in grant money, Mardi Gras announced this month.

Another Brisbane group, Wendybird, also received a grant that will go towards their monthly social events into the new year.

Wendybird welcomes LGBTIQ people and allies to their events to meet and socialise in an inclusive environment.

The funding will also allow the group to hire two peer support workers for their events, Wendybird said.

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