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Help is on its Way

Queensland Music Festival’s 2019 choir initiative brought communities together to raise their voices for men’s mental health.


Help is on its Way was a choral initiative of the 2019 Queensland Music Festival as part of the festival’s 20th anniversary. It built on the festival’s popular 2017 You’re the Voice mass choral project.

Using music to provide a safe environment, Help is on its Way aimed to increase awareness and conversation about positive mental health and wellbeing, and the importance of seeking help, particularly for boys and men. 

Through the initiative, singers, singing groups and more than 100 community and school choirs across eight states and territories came together in their communities to perform the Little River Band classic Help is on its Way. There were a total of 82 Help is on its Way performances nationally, culminating in a large performance in Brisbane featuring almost 4000 choristers, led by conductor Dr Jonathon Welch.

To engage regional Queensland communities, Queensland Music Festival toured to eight towns, some of which had been severely impacted by drought and flooding. At each location, the festival worked closely with councils, local arts networks and organisations and the community to deliver performances, masterclasses and workshops for local choirs.  Each location also hosted a community concert featuring the voices of locals and Little River Band founding frontman Glenn Shorrock.

The Royal Flying Doctor Service attended each of the regional events to promote the importance of positive mental health and to encourage people to seek help when needed. Messaging created by mental health partners Black Dog Institute and Roses in the Ocean was also shared.

The impact of Help it on its Way on participants was evaluated by Griffith University’s Queensland Conservatorium Research Centre in collaboration with the Black Dog Institute.


When and where

July 2019

Regional Queensland locations: Chinchilla, Moranbah, Barcaldine, Hughenden, Birdsville, Cunnamulla, Beaudesert and Townsville



Key regional Queensland stats

  •  8 performances
  • 14 community engagement activities
  • 31 paid artists and workers
  • 1082 participants
  • 3671 attendees


Brisbane stats

  • 3916 choristers
  • Audience of 15,112 


Arts Queensland investment

$120,000 – Playing Queensland Fund 

Playing Queensland Fund supports regional tours to deliver performances, exhibitions and community engagement activities in Queensland communities, including schools and kindergartens.

Queensland Music Festival is a Queensland Government owned company. The Help is on its Way project was also supported through the Regional Arts Development Fund and Regional Arts Services Network in some locations.



  • Participants reported the project increased their awareness of the importance of seeking help for mental health problems and enhanced their own mental well-being. Nine out of 10 participants agreed the project helped them feel part of the community and a sense of belonging.

“A single voice is a single voice, but together we created magic. I’m not just referring to the sound, but the inclusiveness, sense of connection and belonging somewhere that can make a difference.” – Participant

“It made me feel human again. I can’t tell you how much of a robot I feel like, as a mother and a farmer’s wife. All of a sudden I had a purpose and a passion and something just for me. I felt alive, real, energised, important, validated, excited and connected.” – Participant

  • New choirs created during the project have continued, including the Brisbane City Council staff choir and Dr Jonathon Welch’s Men Aloud.
  • More than 40 choir conductors across the regions developed their skills and knowledge through participation in online or face-face masterclasses with Dr Welch.
  • The Help is on its Way Project Evaluation Report has added to the Queensland evidence base regarding the effectiveness of arts projects in improving and supporting mental wellbeing. Findings from the report will support Queensland Music Festival in developing future social impact projects.


Learnings and reflections

Queensland Music Festival shared the following reflections on the project:

Using a mass choir event as a way to raise awareness of mental health on a national scale was a huge undertaking, with many potential risks logistically and also in terms of delivery of a mental health-focused event by a non mental health organisation. The involvement of expert organisations and support services – including Roses in the Ocean, Griffith University and the Royal Flying Doctor Service – ensured the event was delivered effectively and sensitively.

Streaming the concert enabled participants from across Australia who could not attend in person to be a part of the live finale experience. 

This is not a straight gig … it’s an exchange between people, working together to deliver something unique and special in that community.   



“Thanks from the bottom of our hearts for hosting such a joyous and inclusive event.” – Participant

“Have been in the massed choirs 2017 and 2019. Just fantastic experiences. We leave on a high that lasts weeks. Please keep doing the massed choir events.” – Participant 


Tips for others

Regional events depend heavily on establishing and maintaining community networks. This includes working closely with councils to ensure success and reconnaissance trips before the tour.

Developing relationships with community champions in each location is essential for the project’s success. It is important to recognise that the project champions are often the reason the project is taken up

A cookie-cutter approach to running a participation project like this won’t work with multiple communities. The project needs to be responsive to the needs of each community and driven by local engagement. In a sense, our frameworks need to be adaptive to community-led knowledge, requirements and capacity.


What next?

Help is on its Way received overwhelmingly positive feedback from all partners involved. Interest has been expressed by partners in further collaborations with Queensland Music Festival.

Find out more 

Queensland Music Festival website Help is on its Way 


Main page and banner image: Moranbah Community Choir. Image: Gingham and Hide Creative.