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Time for nurturing

Singer Jade Holland is an ambassador for the upcoming festival

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Time for nurturing

A new festival aims to bring together the region’s young people struggling with mental health and those who can help.

One of Australia’s trailblazing musicians and #MeToo Movement advocates Jaguar Jonze is set to headline at Nurture Festival – an inaugural community-based event.

Nurture Festival is happening on May 7 at Lake Kawana and has been created to address alarming youth mental health statistics emerging on the Sunshine Coast.

Appealing to 15-to 25-year-olds, the event will bring together charities, organisations and professionals to engage and offer support with suicide prevention, loneliness and isolation, eating disorders, domestic violence, child sexual assault, bullying and social media.

Fresh off the back of her new single release Little Fires at the Eurovision Australia Decides event, Jaguar Jonze will feature alongside artists Jade Holland, Soap, Sari Abbott, Mayah, Jess Irvine, Pottsy and Aspy Jones as part of the day’s entertainment line-up.

Festival co-organiser and endED co-founder Mark Forbes says the event has been in the works for more than a year and the result is a real community effort.

“The Nurture Festival has pulled together a number of passionate businesses, organisations and individuals who want to see a change in how our youth are being supported,” he says. “The Sunshine Coast is a very supportive and nurturing community and so it has been no surprise that we have seen so many people who want to be involved.”

The confronting motivation behind the event is the statistics on youth suicide in the Sunshine Coast region.

Comunite’z director Nathan Taylor says recent data from The Alliance reveals an estimated 784 fatal and non-fatal suicide attempts on the Coast each year.

“Alarmingly, rates of suicide on the Sunshine Coast are 9.1 per cent higher than the Australian average, and in addition to this, it is reported that young Australians report the highest rates of loneliness, despite being in contact with large numbers of people every day at school, university or work,” Mr Taylor says.

“Too many times a young person can’t find the lived experience support they need, or know where to turn if they are struggling. The goal is that the Nurture Festival platform will introduce them to activities or support mechanisms.”

There will also be a Talk Tent providing an informative and fun series of chats, as well as local schools performing dance and music routines.

“We want to provide a safe space for youth to open up and have a conversation about how they may be feeling and provide them with connections they need to move forward,” Mr Forbes says.

“We know there is no single solution to improving someone’s mental health, but we know that when people feel like they have a ‘team’ of supporters and have the opportunity to talk things through, someone struggling is less likely to act.”

As Nurture Festival and Mental Health Foundation ambassador, singer Jade Holland knows all too well how important it is to seek the help you need when it feels like your world turns upside down.

“I was only 21 and had been severely let down with fake tickets to the UK to take up a lucrative recording contract,” she says. “I experienced such severe depression that I shut myself away for an entire year, gave up music and didn’t hum a single tune; I was drinking a bit and not living a life at all.

“Dad was the one who sat me down and told me that seeking help was nothing to be ashamed of and that he had in fact done the same thing only 10 years earlier.”

Now 31, Ms Holland has completed 14 stints at the Tamworth Country Music Festival and has entertained Australian troops in Afghanistan, Israel and Iraq.

“I use my music as not only a way to convey my story but also to connect to a community of people who have similar experiences or feelings to me,” she says.

Tickets to the festival are $5 and are available at nurturefestival.com.au.

If this article raises concerns for you, or someone you know, phone Lifeline on 13 11 14. If you are in a life-threatening situation, call 000 immediately.

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