Support Act – the heart and hand of Australian Music
Support Act is Australia’s only charity delivering crisis relief services to artists, crew and music workers as a result of ill health, injury, a mental health problem, or some other crisis that impacts on their ability to work in music.
Established in 1997, our goal is to provide breathing space to help members of the music industry to get back on track when they have hit a tough patch or just need breathing space. Our assistance can take the form of paying the rent or the mortgage, buying a bed or wheel chair, paying for car repairs, medical / dental / phone / electricity bills, or a credit card debt. We provide referrals to other support services; funding for funerals; and we support friends and family seeking to raise funds for an artist or music worker in crisis through our Help a Mate program.
We help music workers of all kinds: artists, songwriters, composers, musicians, roadies, techies, managers, staffers and journalists; and from all genres: contemporary, urban, electronic, RnB, classical, country, jazz, folk etc. We treat every request for help confidentially and make no judgement about people’s circumstances.
On average, 69% of the service users we help get back to work in some capacity.
In June 2018, we established the Support Act Wellbeing Helpline – a free, confidential 24/7 counselling service that is available to anyone working in Australian music who needs to talk about any aspect of their mental health. It can be accessed by calling #1800 959 500.
The Helpline was established in response to feedback and requests from artists and music workers, managers, their friends and families who are concerned about the disruption and devastation that mental health issues can have on careers, relationships and home life, and overall health and wellbeing.
This was supported by research from The New Zealand Music Foundation, whose 2016 study found that musicians are 5 times more likely to struggle with depression and 10 times more likely to show symptoms of anxiety. An Australian study commissioned by Entertainment Assist and Victoria University in 2016 suggested similarly high levels of anxiety, depression and other mental health issues including suicide ideation across all sectors of the entertainment industry.
These studies, and our own experience, have told us that artists and music workers are more likely to seek help from people that understand the particular issues that they face as part of their profession. In August 2019, the service was extended to performing arts workers as part of our partnership with Arts Centre Melbourne’s Arts Wellbeing Collective, which promotes positive mental health and wellbeing in the performing arts.
Support Act raises funds from the music industry and its supporters. This can be in the form of donations, sponsorship, community fundraising, Help a Mate appeals, events such as our annual “Music in the House” event that honours artists who have made a significant contribution to the community, and promotions such as Ausmusic T-Shirt Day.