A piece of art celebrating the small victories people have in their battle against drugs and alcohol has won a major south-west Victorian prize.

`Small Victories’ by South West TAFE art student Rhianna Thomas won first prize in the 2015 Western Region Alcohol and Drug Centre (WRAD) Art in Schools competition which focuses on substance use and mental health.

“I was trying to bring attention to the small victories people accomplish and how they should be celebrated – especially in relation to addiction and mental illness,” Rhianna said.

“What one person can do easily may be a struggle for the next. Just because you can do something easily doesn’t mean it isn’t a big deal for someone else,” she added.

The art work features a fridge with a list of simple `to do’ tasks and a tick box to recognise when they are done.

One of the judges, Gareth Colliton, said the winning entry was easily accessible and used humour to talk about a tough subject.

“It was an unusual collage from a technical perspective but conceptually it was very elegant, engaging and moving,” Mr Colliton said.

A record 63 entries were lodged in the competition.

Mr Colliton said the judges were impressed with a very high level of work.

“We noticed very strong engagement with the concept. The students were thinking of strong metaphors that relate to the topic,” he said.

The winners were announced at the Artery in Warrnambool on May 13 and all entries will be on display for the next two weeks at the Timor Street gallery.

Second prize was won by Rose Geddes of Camperdown College with `Eyes that see in the Dark’.

Third place went to Brauer College Year 12 student Alex Jones’ Vectors Of Our Emotions” which depicts a hand falling into the depths of despair, whilst reaching out to others to prevent an inevitable decent.

The people’s choice award was presented to Ahliya Harris of Timboon P12 with `You Are Not Alone’ and WRAD staff voted Kings College student Luke Perry’s `Facing New Hope’ as their favourite work.

Encouragement awards were presented to Charlotte Cossens of Brauer College, Brianna Mansbridge of Brauer College, Taylah Cook of Brauer College and Connie Savage of Timboon P 12

Students from South West TAFE, Warrnambool College, Brauer College, King’s College, Emmanuel College, Terang College, Timboon P 12 School and Camperdown College competed for more than $1000 in prizes.

The entries followed the theme `Everyone’s Business – Healthy Strong Communities’.

The WRAD Art in School competition is supported by funding from the Australian Government Department of Health.