Mental Health Week 2019

Stand By Me
6 October – 12 October

Stand By Me - Mental Health Week

About the project

This music clip was created to raise awareness about youth suicide and mental health statistics, and to promote WA Mental Health Week (6–12 October 2019). 

Current statistics indicate that one in seven young Australians will experience a mental health condition over the course of their adolescent years. They are also less likely than any other age group to seek professional help.

Rates of youth suicide in Australia are the highest they have been in 10 years. Suicide is the biggest killer of young Australians and accounts for the deaths of more young people each year than car accidents (Beyond Blue, 2019). 

Ben E. King's Stand By Me was chosen as a means of reminding young people of the importance of community, remaining connected and ‘standing by’ each other in difficult times. 

This project is a proud collaboration between the UWA Conservatorium of Music and an enormous group of talented high school students and staff, led by voice teacher and choral director Christie Pannell from the Education Department’s Instrumental Music School Services.  

The project was a huge undertaking, stretching across several terms. Coordination and organisation ranged from applying for funding and acquiring licencing, through to nine weeks of rehearsals in schools. A total of 190 students from 11 Education Department schools were involved in the project. These students were accompanied by the UWA Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Head of the Conservatorium Professor Alan Lourens, who provided an original orchestral arrangement of the song.

UWA is proud of its commitment to the incredibly hard-working music teachers in schools, and seeks to highlight the important role music can play in society to promote wellbeing, friendship and strong community.

If you – a young person – are experiencing moods, thoughts or behaviours that out of generally out of character for you, you can approach the following resources for assistance:

The talented high school students

The students from Applecross Senior High School, Balcatta Senior High School, Belmont City College, Butler College, Como Secondary College, Ellenbrook Secondary College, Kalamunda Senior High School, Ocean Reef Senior High School, Thornlie Senior High School, Wanneroo Secondary College, and Woodvale Secondary College spent nine weeks learning the choral arrangement by Christie Pannell and Bronwyn Sprogowski. This arrangement in four-part harmony was created to suit the vast range of student ability across the 11 schools involved. Hour-long choir sessions occurred at each school across Perth every week, and were led by Christie Pannell, Victoria O'Neill and Bronwyn Sprogowski.

The students had not sung together until the day of the recording. Commencing in the morning, they worked a full day in UWA's Callaway Music Auditorium laying down the track, before working with UWA videographers to capture visuals across campus. They were superstars all day, even finding time to make many friendships across the schools.

All vocals were performed by the students, with Indigo Ellis from Ocean Reef Senior High School (year 8) and Maddy Ngatai from Butler College (year 10) performing the solo lines to great acclaim.

UWA would like to acknowledge the incredible amount of work by Christie Pannell, who instigated and then led this project in schools, along with her wonderful colleagues including Victoria O'Neill and Bronwyn Sprogowski, who gave countless hours preparing their students for the performance. Christie and all music teachers make a huge contribution to the development of music and music education in Western Australia. Their efforts are immeasurable.

Proudly supported by

  • Mental Health Week logo
  • WAAMH logo
  • Local Community Church logo
  • Perth Theatre Trust logo
  • Dept. of Education logo
  • UWA logo
Special thanks to Rob and Tracy Pannell.


Stand By Me – music and lyrics by Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller and Ben E. King 

Orchestral arrangement and conductor| Professor Alan Lourens 

Vocal arrangement | Christie Pannell and Bron Sprogowski

Musicians | UWA Symphony Orchestra

Cover by the University of Western Australia and the Instrumental Music School Services (IMSS)

Music director | Professor Alan Lourens

Choral director and project coordination | Christie Pannell, Instrumental Music School Services

Sound engineer | Jesse Stack

Videographers | Emma Chandler and Nicholas Smith

Administration support | Paul Johnson

School's coordinator support | Bryce Sheehan

Featuring students from:

  • Applecross Senior High School
  • Balcatta Senior High School 
  • Belmont City College 
  • Butler College
  • Como Secondary College
  • Ellenbrook Secondary College
  • Kalamunda Senior High School
  • Ocean Reef Senior High School
  • Thornlie Senior High School
  • Wanneroo Secondary College
  • Woodvale Secondary College

Filmed, edited and produced by The University of Western Australia

With thanks to University Theatres and the UWA Conservatorium of Music

Supported by WA Association for Mental Health, in support of Mental Health Week 2019, Perth Theatre Trust and Local Community Church