Communities in south-west Victoria are being challenged to find a positive theme for an art competition that focuses on substance use and mental health problems.

The annual Western Region Alcohol and Drug Centre (WRAD) Art in Schools competition draws attention to the dual diagnosis of alcohol and other drug problems and mental health issues.

WRAD Improved Services Co-ordinator, Angela Alexander, said that while the competition dealt with a serious subject, there was always a ray of hope for people.

“We want to get people thinking about a suitable theme for the 2016 competition that is catchy and uplifting,” Ms Alexander said.

“We’d like to see art that has a positive outlook and hope the community will come up with a suitable theme that will inspire young people.”

Some of the initial suggestions have included `looking forward’, `portraits of hope’ and `shine the light’.

Ms Alexander said the underlying focus was recovery from addiction with an emphasis on well-being and she hoped people would also think about solutions when coming up with creative ideas for a competition theme.

“The aim is to capture the imagination of young artists and make the experience positive and one that generates real hope,” she said.

“We’d like to see their thoughts, hopes and dreams for positive change and actively making a difference in people’s lives.”

The competition started in 2012 to promote local art talent and to encourage young people to express their views around alcohol and drugs and mental health.

A record 63 entries were lodged in the 2015 competition.

The 2015 entries followed the theme `Everyone’s Business – Healthy Strong Communities’ and previous competitions looked at the impact of drugs and alcohol on the mind and on families.

The theme competition is open to all ages and people can submit ideas to Ms Alexander on 1300 009 723 or AngelaA@wrad.org.au.

WRAD plans to circulate the theme for the 2016 Art in Schools Competition to district schools by the end of August. The ‘create a theme’ competition closes August 21.

The winning entry will receive a family pass to the Capitol Cinema Centre.

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

For more information contact WRAD on 1300 009723 or visit www.wrad.org.au.