A music event that started off as a way to bring bands to regional South Australia is helping to spread awareness of mental health in small farming communities.

Key points:

  • A string of tragedies inspired an SA festival organiser to turn the event into a fundraiser for mental health
  • Jamestown Apex Club hopes the mental health program funded by the event could be expanded to other schools
  • The program aims to give young people coping skills to help through tough times

The Chilled Out and Fired Up Music Festival will be held in March at Caltowie, a small town a few hours north of Adelaide.

Organiser and local musician Ben Van Boekel said the event started in 2019 as an opportunity to put acts on stages outside metropolitan centres.

“Some from Adelaide, a couple from interstate, but they’re generally bands you would not hear around here,” he said.

“We were just trying to think of how we could help guys like that out, and a few people spoke to me and said, ‘Why don’t you turn this party into something bigger?'”

The $20,000 raised by the 2019 event was put towards a mental health program at the nearby Jamestown Community School.

Ben Van Boekel is the Caltowie Chilled Out and Fired Up music festival organiser.(Supplied: Ben Van Boekel)

‘Radiating out’

Last year’s festival was cancelled, but Mr Van Boekel said organisers expected to sell about 1,000 tickets for this year’s event.

The Jamestown Apex Club hoped the metal health programs running locally could be expanded to other schools.

“Mental health is becoming a massive issue across society, particularly in regional areas,” Apex Club president Ben Lehmann said.

“That affects the whole community — so we just want to really help out and prevent these kinds of tragedies unfolding.

“We’ve been through some dry years with drought, as well as economic downturns and now the worldwide pandemic.

Money raised at the event will help fund mental health programs at local primary schools.(Supplied: Ben Van Boekel)

Mr Lehmann said the school program helped teach primary aged children resilience and mindfulness.

“By helping the kids out first, that’s setting them up and radiating out from there,” he said.

“We’ve also started a group called Secret Men’s Business where, once a month, we get blokes of all ages together and get their hands on a new activity and make time for themselves.”

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