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News May 30, 2022

Support Act to Pilot Backstage Wellbeing Sessions at Splendour In The Grass (EXCLUSIVE)

Support Act to Pilot Backstage Wellbeing Sessions at Splendour In The Grass (EXCLUSIVE)

Support Act will pilot a new mental health and wellbeing initiative at Splendour In The Grass in July.

Its safe space backstage festivals program will provide access to psychologists and other mental support, and briefings, to road crews and other festival workers.

Support Act CEO, Clive Miller, said it could expand to other festivals and events beyond Splendour.

“We’ll monitor that and see how it develops, but I think it’s an incredible first step,” Miller told TIO. “We can do things that can really have a lasting impact, and through something that is relatively quick and easy.”

Support Act works with both CrewCare and the Australian Road Crew Association.

Both their leaders point to past studies that showed that suicides, suicide idealisations, anxieties and drug/alcohol dependencies were extraordinarily higher than other music workers.

But the mostly-male crew culture meant that there was a reluctance to seek help.

“But things changed suddenly two years ago with CrewCare, when we started offering our mental health first aid training to crew members,” Miller, pictured below, said.

“They were going ‘Training? Oh, we love training’! We got a great response.

“So that was a great way to introduce people to fundamental concepts as mental health, give people the language to talk about it to each other, give referrals, and look after themselves.”

Support Act

The Workplace Wellbeing Check-In program — where employees are given a pulse check on how safe they feel and then provided with resources and training – is being expanded as a dedicated scheme for live production companies and others that hire crew.

Of the 1,300 music industry workers who took part in Support Act’s Wellbeing in Music and Live Performing Arts survey, 15.2% were crew, 2.1% were production/technical crew within another kind of live performing arts, 1.9% were sound engineers working either live or in-studio settings) and 1% were tour managers.

The figures were delivered in detail by Dr Aurora Elmes for The Centre for Social Impact, Swinburne at the association’s inaugural Head First conference last Wednesday (May 25) at the Factory Theatre in Sydney.

“It was such an unbelievable success,” Miller said. “It really reconfirmed how important it is to have these conversations about mental health and well-being within the music industry.”

Motivated by the sobering nature of the statistics, the audience was totally engaged.

Highlights were an articulate conversation with Ziggy Ramo, followed by powerful disclosures of being a First Nation artist in a white-controlled industry by Mitch Tambo, Cerise Grant, Emily Wurramarra, Tully de Vries and Nooky.

Culture Amp CEO Didier Elzinga and Greta Bradman detailed creating a psychologically safe workplace, SafeWork NSW’s Jim Kelly designed a mentally healthy workplace, and one panel debated if music still had a drug and alcohol problem.

Sally Ann Gross of the UK’s University of Westminster, and co-author of “Can Music Make You Sick?”, told the audience that in the UK, Support Act was recognised as a world leader in the delivery of its mental health services.

Miller said as the industry rebuilds after the pandemic, there is “a huge opportunity with the work we’re doing” and the work the music industry is doing, to change the culture.

“We can do things better and have a much stronger focus on creativity, productivity and economic wellbeing.”

This article originally appeared on The Industry Observer, which is now part of The Music Network.


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