The Smash The Silence project that has been a big part of my life for the past four years, and this year has been one of those blessings in disguise. This year was going to be one of the most exciting ones, with in-person live events supposed to take place, and obviously in March, all of that came to a halt. It was one of the most devastating feelings of my life. I had put so much work and energy into making sure that things would move smoothly, all for them to be taken away from me.
What I had figured out in March was my main concept for this program. It involved:
- Young musicians and songwriters sharing original material that resonated with the message of speaking out.
- Young people sharing their personal mental health journeys, with the ambition of raising awareness of mental health.
- The event was profiled as a safe space, and an alcohol and drug free event.
- It has always been a free event for young people, aimed at ages 12-24 years of age, open to all ages to allow support networks to come.
- Mental Health Service resources were available; the main being headspace.
Ultimately, my goal was to bring people together over music, raising awareness through free expression, and acknowledging people suffer silently. It was through resilience, lots of mental strength and working with people to bring this program into a new format.
The 2020 program delivery shifted to a virtual platform in response to COVID-19 pandemic with Camden Council supporting the program; profiling material on Facebook every Friday and Sunday evening for a period of 10 weeks. This program extends on the Smash the Silence principals of maintaining mental health, creating conversations by smashing the silence, building resilience in a COVID world, connecting people with services, and provide ongoing support for emerging musicians and songwriters providing an opportunity for them to gain exposure for their original material.
I saw this as a perfect opportunity to take what is very much an in-person experience and use my university degree to help push me to making this a really impactful digital artefact. I used the OODA loop (observe, orient, decide, act) – which was how I was able to take something that I had been so set on and take it to an adapted format. It was an ongoing process that took between March and July to figure out, with various experimenting with aesthetics, filming and photography techniques and taking a real life experience and making it accessible to people.
The program started in August with musicians performing on Friday nights, and interviews on Sundays on Facebook Premiere. The process was bringing people into the Camden Civic Centre, filming them with two static cameras and one on a gimbal, editing the footage and linking it with the mastered audio that I mixed. I had come up with various memetics that would be continued throughout the entire series. From the stage design and the handwriting aesthetic of various speaking parts, it was all carefully chosen to create a personal and calm feeling when people watched.
120,800 people connected with the ten week Smash the Silence program. 8 young people aged between 16 and 22yrs shared their personal mental health journey to reach out to others and encourage young people to smash the silence, with topics ranging from suicide, sexuality, self-image, racial discrimination, life changing events, anxiety, bullying, domestic abuse, family and relationship breakdown. 22 musicians engaged with the program, each profiling original material that responded to personal mental health experiences.
As you can see, the impact of working in an online space has taken this event to new heights. This series is extremely powerful and will be a resource for both educating about mental health, and entertainment and supporting upcoming young Australian talent.
After the series concluded, I was nominated for the WayAhead Mental Health Matters Award and won. This was extremely humbling and a bittersweet moment. For me, mental health is such a personal thing and being able to be recognised for the work I am so passionate about is something I do not take for granted.
I am currently in the ideation stage of a podcast that will follow up this series, and the return of events in 2021. The plan is to launch the podcast in December in a more laid-back style than the series. This digital media project is something I will definitely add more to in future, and now, Smash The Silence is now something I can turn into a job.