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The Big Anxiety

World-First Parra Girls Project

The Big Anxiety brings together artists, scientists and communities to question and re-imagine the state of mental health in the 21st century.

A radically new kind of international arts festival, in which every project is an open conversation, designed to promote curiosity, awareness and action, The Big Anxiety presents over 60 events across Greater Sydney, tackling the major anxieties of our times, as well as the stresses and strains of everyday life.

Whether through hi-tech interactive environments or one-on-one dialogues, our goal is to create the rich engagements we need for our collective mental health.

The Big Anxiety is an initiative of UNSW Sydney in association with the Black Dog Institute and over 25 partners in the cultural, education and health sectors.

Full Program:


The Big Anxiety Hubs

The Big Anxiety hubs are located at Customs House, Riverside Theatres Parramatta, and UNSW Paddington.

Paddington is our Nerve Centre with a focus on digital technology and immersive environments. At Customs House it's the NeurodiverseCity, exploring urban experience from the perspective of a cognitively and neurologically diverse population. At Parramatta, our 8 day hub is The Check-in Lounge at Riverside Theatres, offering art and technology encounters for mental health and self-care.

Beyond these hubs, The Big Anxiety events can be found at other locations including the Museum of Contemporary Art, Art Gallery of NSW, State Library of NSW, Seymour Centre, Fairfield Gallery and Peacock Gallery, Auburn.


The festival's showcase event is the groundbreaking Parragirls project.

Up until the early 1980s, -children at risk' were held at Parramatta Girls Home and subjected to unwarranted punishment and abuse. Returning after 40 years, the women seek out traces to substantiate what really happened.

The Parragirls instillation at UNSW Paddington at Riverside Parramatta unlocks memories of institutional -care' in an immersive 3D Virtual Reality experience that presents former residents' visions of the Parramatta Girls Home today.

Not only is the story moving but the instillation uses the highest resolution 3D cinema screen anywhere in the world.

More info here:


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