It is more important than ever that the Albury-Wodonga Winter Solstice goes ahead this year, according to film-maker Helen Newman.
"It's more valuable than ever given the isolation we are experiencing across the globe," she said.
"We are already seeing Lifeline reporting a 30 per cent increase in calls around the effects of COVID-19 on people's mental health.
"By June 21, I think the need will be even greater because I think potentially we will still have some isolation measures in place."
Newman said coronavirus had tipped the annual event on its head.
The familiar and much-loved community gathering on June 21 at Albury's QEII Square is now being re-formatted into a virtual event.
And the Albury-based documentary maker is doing a lot of the behind-the-scenes production to make that work.
"It's coming together - it's exciting," Newman said this week.
She has been busy filming keynote speakers and presenters, which include Border basketball legend Lauren Jackson, long-running solstice supporter Professor Patrick McGorry and UK mental health campaigner Jonny Benjamin.
"We've been pre-recording with social distancing in place and also having others film for us when we can't get to them," she explained.
"That pre-recorded content will be woven into the live streaming event on the night."
Newman said the more she spoke to and worked with people involved in the project the more excited she was about the online format.
"Our reach has been catapulted beyond the space of QEII Square," she said.
"This opens up the event to a global audience."
Newman is also certain the virtual Winter Solstice can and will still deliver a meaningful connection with people.
"The importance, the content and the connection will be there - that's at the front of our minds always when we present this," she said.
"Having it as a Facebook live event where people can interact in some capacity is great.
"And by June, people are also going to be more experienced in terms of connecting via online platforms."
So much wisdom in our youth
You could say caring for the community runs in Issy Towner's blood.
The Albury youth councillor is the daughter of dynamic former Carevan chief executive Jodie Tiernan.
The 16-year-old Albury High School student has voiced her support for the Albury-Wodonga Winter Solstice in a short film clip to promote this year's virtual event.
"The Winter Solstice to me means support, and warmth, togetherness and being connected," she said.
"I also think it's a great opportunity to open up that conversation about mental health."
In the clip produced by film-maker Helen Newman, who is busy producing the online solstice offering for June 21, Ms Towner agreed this year's virtual event could help reach a wider audience.
"It could reach a lot more people in different homes who can't make it," she said.
- For more information go to the Winter Solstice Facebook page - online streaming will start from 6pm, June 21.