Festival of Care

A collaboration between South Eastern Sydney Local Health District and UNSW Sydney ADA Innovation Hub + BARC

Digital screen and colourful wayfinding totem
"The arts offer an understanding of experience, a way to express, to talk about, communicate experience, and then, by extension, a means to work through it, and potentially to inform ways to tailor support that meets people’s needs,” Prof. Jill Bennett.

The ADA Innovation Hub has partnered with the Big Anxiety Research Centre (BARC) to deliver a Festival of Care for hospitals in the South Eastern Sydney Local Health District (SESLHD). The festival is designed to enhance the wellbeing of staff in the health facilities across four hospital campuses: St George, Sutherland, Randwick and Sydney and Sydney Eye Hospital.

A collaborative project led by Scientia Professor Jill Bennet and Professor Michael Balfour, and co-created by ADA designers, creative practitioners, SESLHD leaders and wellbeing ambassadors, the Festival of Care delivers a series of creative arts-based wellbeing interventions.

Recognising that as we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, staff in healthcare facilities continue to experience high levels of workplace pressure and stress, the Festival of Care looks at ways to start conversations as well as provide connections to further support. The program includes a variety of interventions ranging from ambient live music, awkward conversations, artists in residence, craft-making, VR for wellbeing programs and resources, through to age care programs.

Accommodating for a busy hospital environment, where time poor staff often experience work-related stress the festival's program approach centres around: 

  • Curated ambient interventions that permeate the space and transform the environment.
  • ‘light touch’ engagements​
  • Opportunities for return interactions and deeper engagement with our resources and programs
“Sharing stories through different mediums in a supportive environment, can be very beneficial, enhancing agency and capacity for psycho-social wellbeing.”


Facts & figures

Four Hospital Sites
participating in the festival
20+ Collaborators
contributing to the festival program
SESLHD + Innovation Hub + BARC

An exciting arts program designed to inspire creativity, conversation, and wellbeing

Unwind in VR!

EmbodiMap is an immersive Virtual Reality tool developed by the fEEL lab at UNSW.  A 10 minute guided experience helps users regulate stress and anxiety responses by visualising internal activation in the body. 

Embodimap invites users to engage with a life-sized avatar and interactive 3D drawing technology to map sensations and emotions. By tracking physiological responses like autonomic nervous system activation or localised tension, Embodimap promotes somatic awareness, which can help us to unwind and relax or to gain insight into how our bodies habitually respond to stressful situations.

Viv is an artificially intelligent (AI) companion Viv has lived an exciting life and is now a dementia advocate, having been diagnosed herself. She will hang out close to the ASB café, Plume, each day of the festival, talking about her life, interests, and experience of being diagnosed. Co-created with women living with dementia, Viv understands the complexity of the medical profession, shares about her concerns and responds with empathy. Join her for a chat and a cup of tea. 

Be part of something big

Make your mark and contribute to a gorgeous mural for your hospital!

No artistic skills? No problem!

Drop by and create an instant painting, contributing to a library of images that will transform into a giant collective mural. 

Walk and talk or sit and chat


A liberating & utterly fascinating experience!

Designed for professionals more used to solving other people’s problems than sharing our own, this program offers a unique opportunity for 15-minute, one-to-one authentic conversations tackling hard-to-talk-about subjects like workplace-stress, depression, and the general craziness of life.

Awkward Conversations are completely confidential, make no demands, have no expectations, and require no social skills.

Drop in or reserve a timeslot. Walk and talk or sit and chat.

Learn skills to deal with conflict

Join actor/medical doctor Dr Renee Lim in an enlightening workshop. Inspired by Grace Under Pressure, a verbatim theatre project made with junior doctors and nurses about the workplace and training cultures that are making young health professionals sick – and which put patient lives at risk. Renee presents enactments from the theatre piece along with role-plays of difficult interactions around toxic workplaces, mental health, and stress. 

Dr Lim brought to life the stories shared by our doctors and nurses. Dr Lim’s ability to use her real life medical experience and acting skills to retell real life clinical experiences – both the beautiful and the heart breaking. Her use of clinical simulation techniques were powerful and allowed the audience to reflect on their own practice as all the stories were so relatable. I would highly recommend!

Kate Christopher – Clinical Governance and Risk Manager, St George Hospital.

Learn a new skill

Drop by for a yarn and weave your own takeaway wreath with Aunty Victoria and Kodie. Traditional crafting is a beautiful way of aligning with community, country and history so why not challenge your technical dexterity, learn a new skill and take ten minutes to focus and connect.

Feel the rhythm

Bask in the ambience of live music with performances scheduled every day throughout the festival. Take a break and enjoy the jazz or decompress to the twinkling harp, there’s something for every taste. 

Man, body, music, and light as one..

Alon Ilsar is an Australian drummer, composer, sound designer and instrument designer. He is co-designer of a new interface for electronic percussion called AirSticks.. "Like peeking around the corner of the time-space continuum and glimpsing the future", the Airsticks enable new forms of music participation.

Find out more
Feeling stiff? In need of a song?

Karaoke Massage is the (free!) ticket for you. Combining the practices of lullaby and touch, this performative exchange is a massage choreographed to your chosen musical hit.

Teik-Kim Pok is a multidisciplinary artist, performance-maker and educator having featured his work at Sydney Festival, Underbelly, Next Wave. His live art has manifested in interactive-durational-public performances, including quasi-therapy works Kino Klinik and Karaoke Massage. He was the titular character in Platon Theodoris’ debut award-winning feature Alvin’s Harmonious World of Opposites, (Sydney Underground Film Festival + Official Selection, Slamdance 2015).

All the action from the Festival of Care