From throngs of teens headbanging to families enjoying the outdoor activities and food stalls, everyone had a blast at Scream It Out last Saturday.

Hosted at Hurlstone Agricultural School for the fourth consecutive year, this local south west Sydney music festival was created by musician and schoolteacher Jerry Zahija to merge his two greatest passions: youth mental health and live music. All proceeds went to Headspace.

“It was an overwhelming success this year. It’s too early to say how much we’ve raised for Headspace but I’m confident in saying we will beat last year’s donation,” Mr Zahija said.

The all-ages festival welcomed people from any and all backgrounds to come and enjoy an evening of music and fun in a safe space.

The passion of the attendees was palpable. Festival goer Tiearna Powell said, “I just love this cause and want to support it in any way I can. It’s a cause that’s very close to my heart, having lost family members and friends to mental illness.”

“I also love that it’s bringing live music to western Sydney… often we miss out on these sorts of experiences so it’s really amazing for our area.”

There were collaborative workshops, food trucks, market stalls, merch stands, and – of course – plenty of live music.

Campbelltown City Council’s Youth Action Team launched their 2024-2023 Youth Strategy at the festival, and attendees were given the opportunity to chat to the team to ask questions and provide their feedback.

Headspace Campbelltown hosted a Q&A panel session, giving festival goers a chance to discuss mental health in a non-judgemental, open dialogue.

Headspace representative Rita Chalhoub said, “We’re here today, hopefully getting the word out about youth mental health and getting rid of the stigma around reaching out for help. No matter what you’re going through, we just want to support you and help you.”

In the auditorium, a diverse range of live music acts wowed the audience, from School of Rock Macarthur, metal band Pyrefly, and Mr Zahija’s own band Carmeria.

Scream It Out has grown significantly each year, and 2024 was no exception. With Mr Zahija’s passion and dedication to the cause, the festival will only continue to go from strength to strength.

He said, “Seeing how much fun everyone was having with the music inside and the look on all the kids’ faces when they were in the audience was such a highlight… I honestly can’t explain it.”

For Jerry Zahija and his team, that’s the payoff for all their hard work!

–  Emily Kaine 

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