Historical overview of mental health spiritual care in Victoria and beyond

Learn about some historical figures who were early advocates for compassionate person-centred care that viewed humanity through the holistic lens.


(18 May 1908 – 29 January 2008)

Portrait of Dr E. Cunningham Dax. Artist: Kynan Sutherland

The story of Dr E. Cunningham Dax’s contribution to pioneering the modality of art therapy is well documented. A little-known fact is that he also understood spiritual care needs.

Read the short essay about the contribution of Dr E. Cunningham Dax:

A brief history of Mental Health Spiritual Care in Victoria.

View a sample of historical artworks in the Dax collection with spiritual themes.

The Dax Centre are 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 located is in Parkville, Melbourne and open to the public. 


(29 October 1876 – 1 October 1965)

Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) is one of the education pathways in the professional spiritual care discipline. The founder of CPE was Anton Boisen, a man with a lived experience of mental ill health who devised the ‘human living document’, an intensive study to understand the inner human experience. This became a blueprint for a training program for clergy in 1925. 

Read about Anton Boisen’s life and work.