The Big Anxiety Research Centre (BARC) has been established at UNSW to capitalise on the growth of The Big Anxiety festival. Join the BARC launch live-streamed on Friday 11 Nov, 4pm.

First staged across Greater Sydney in 2017, and then in 2019, the initial festivals attracted over 270,000 visitors. In early 2022, The Big Anxiety expanded to Queensland, launching The Big Reach program of events in Warwick, Brisbane, and Gold Coast, with Edge of Present, the world’s first VR environment developed for suicide prevention, travelling to Maroochydore.

In September/October 2022, The Big Anxiety’s festival of Lived Experiences was staged in Naarm/Melbourne. With an emphasis on Learning from Lived Experience, the festival has developed a 2-day intensive program using art-based experiences and creative tools to explore new ways of working with trauma and distress.

Jill Bennett

Founding Director, ARC Laureate Fellow, Professor Jill Bennett sees The Big Anxiety as chance to develop a cultural approach to mental health beyond the clinical realm, developing the resources people need to address trauma and distress in everyday community settings.

BARC’s research mission is to extend the development of trauma-informed, community-based work with demonstrable psychosocial benefits.

Professor Bennett’s team is known especially for large scale immersive media projects, which to date have included Waumananyi – a VR collaboration with Uti Kulintjaku, Ngangkari (healers) in the APY Lands; the Embodimap VR tool, currently being trialed in a clinical trauma program; and more recent projects exploring experiences of psychiatric admission to the ED, and of “BPD” diagnosis.

This expertise in experiential media and program design is complemented by UNSW’s strength in social work and social practice, with its strong focus on understanding health ecologies and the social determinants of trauma and mental health.

BARC’s fellows and associates include consumer researchers, and First Nations trauma specialist, Marianne Wobcke. The Bridging Hope Charity Foundation has recently announced that it will support a three-year postdoctoral fellowship at BARC. Look out for the BARC short course which will be offered in March 2023.

Join the BARC launch live-streamed on Friday 11 Nov, 4pm: