Basketball legend and mental health advocate Lauren Jackson will headline the 2020 Albury-Wodonga Winter Solstice, which will be hosted online this year due to coronavirus restrictions.
Joining the virtual line-up will be long-running solstice supporter Professor Patrick McGorry and award-winning UK mental health campaigner Jonny Benjamin, whose life was saved by a stranger who talked him off the edge of Waterloo Bridge in 2008.
The event, now in its eighth year, usually sees the community gather at Albury's QEII Square on June 21 to shine a light on suicide and mental health as the longest night of the year closes in.
Organisers have announced this year they will still deliver the much-loved solstice formula but it will be presented as a short film on Facebook from 6pm that night.
The community is being encouraged to gather in spirit from the comfort of their homes, to sit around fires if possible, share a meal or glass of wine and watch what will be an intimate address from the speakers, spiritual leaders and musicians involved.
Co-founder Annette Baker said while it was disappointing the usual live gathering could not go ahead, current conditions meant the committee could now push its online platform.
"It gives us the chance to progress and develop our social media campaign," Mrs Baker said.
"This presents an opportunity to take the Winter Solstice event to a much wider online audience."
In 2019, the Albury-Wodonga Winter Solstice was live streamed to Benalla to help spread the warmth of its healing comfort and inspirational messages to other communities.
For Annette and Stuart Baker, who lost their daughter Mary to suicide when she was just 15, the hope has always been to take the Winter Solstice into communities across Australia.
Albury documentary maker Helen Newman is currently putting together pre-recordings of all the solstice components including speaker presentations, the Welcome to Country and address from Father Peter MacLeod-Miller, commentary from David Astle and music acts.
Mrs Baker said all those involved were going above and beyond to contribute - from a distance - to an event that was needed now more than ever at this critical time.
"We will still have speakers, music and the message of love and support as we come together to talk about mental health and suicide," she said.
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