Support Act is celebrating a major milestone today – it’s 25th anniversary.

Launched on 8 August 1997 by an industry-led committee, Support Act remains the music industry’s only charity providing crisis relief and life-saving mental health and wellbeing support to thousands of people each year, along with services such as the Support Act Wellbeing Helpline, funeral support and more.

The founding committee, comprising John Anderson, Jeremy Fabyini, Nick Hampton, Peter Hebbes, Peter Karpin, Glenn Shorrock, Simon Fenner, Emmanuel Candi, Dobe Newton, Alex Coroneos, John Bromell, Michael Chugg, Brett Cottle, Meryl Gross, Jim White and Michael McMartin, recognised the need for an industry-based entity that could help provide human and financial services that would positively impact the health and welfare of people working in the music industry. The initial idea, however, began much earlier.

Music publisher, Jane English, explains: “The e​stablishment of Support Act was a story that was 17 years in the making. It started in 1980 as an idea, as a concept with Stevie Wright, singer of the Easybeats, and publisher John Bromell.

“John Bromell said to me, ‘The music industry doesn’t look after people like Stevie Wright. He has no money, he has no super. And yet he’s taken Australian music to England and to Europe and has made a huge stamp on the world for Australian music. And the music industry should look after the Stevie Wrights of our world’.

John Bromell never gave up. He lobbied the music business industry to believe in the concept and with financial support from founding members ARIA PPCA and APRA AMCOS, the organisation was incorporated as a public company limited by guarantee on 7 August 1997. It was granted charity status in 2000. 

Over the years, the who’s who of the music industry have had a hand in making the charity what it is today, with directors including Geoffrey Rudd, Jane English, Brian Cadd, Robert Patterson, John Hansen, John Woodruff, Dean Ormston, Keith Potger, Fifa Riccobono, Cath Haridy and Mark Callaghan.

Support Act’s current directors are Sally Howland, Lynne Small, David Albert, John Watson, Millie Millgate, Jacqui Purcell, John O’Donnell, Sebastian Chase, Alethea Beetson, Karin Lines, Linda Courtney and Tom Larkin.

Founding member, Michael Chugg, adds: “(When Support Act started) it was quite groundbreaking because no-one had worker’s compensation, no-one had superannuation, and very few people could afford to have medical benefits. So when it was suggested that we start this, I was totally committed. 

“I know a lot of people who have really been helped and it’s even helped our family as well. I think there’s always going to be a need for Support Act and I can’t ever see our industry without it.”

As well as celebrating its history this month, the charity will also be looking to the future with plans to expand its programs and services including extending crisis relief services to reach those who are ageing and lack a safety net for retirement; contributing to the promotion of mentally healthy workplaces through programming and the launch of a Minimum Standards for a Mentally Healthy Music Industry; supporting sustained culture and behavioural change in relation to Safety at Work issues; and undertaking regular research and mental health promotion.

The charity will also be unveiling its inaugural First Nations Strategic Plan, designed in consultation with Elders and Indiginous leaders across the country and led by the organisation’s First Nations Community Engagement and Social Worker, Cerisa Benjamin.

CEO of Support Act, Clive Miller, explains: “It’s a major achievement for any organisation to reach 25 years old, so we’re thrilled to be able to celebrate this milestone and to acknowledge all of the directors, staff, donors, sponsors and other supporters have helped make Support Act what it is today.

“As the past couple of years have shown us, there has never been a greater need for our services, and we can all be proud of the way that the organisation has transformed itself from a relatively small charity to one that is providing a dynamic range of life-saving support services and programs for tens of thousands of music workers in need, helping to shape a more mentally healthy industry for the future.”