Building Empathy with ‘Being Debra’ VR

Australia’s largest mental health festival returns this year and asks Sydney-siders ‘How do we cultivate empathy in place of stigma, fear and discrimination?’

The Big Anxiety Festival is a month long biennial festival hosted by UNSW in association with the Black Dog Institute. This year will focus on care and healing, suicide prevention, empathy and stigma. One of the events asks the audience to step into someone else’s shoes through a virtual reality exhibit.

‘Being Debra’ lets the audience experience what it’s like being a dwarf in contemporary Australian society. The audience steps in to the world of Dr Debra Keenahan, an artist, academic and disability activist living with achondroplasia dwarfism. We were joined by Dr Debra Keenahan to learn more.


Photo: Dr Debra Keenahan creating her VR exhibit ‘Being Debra’ as part of the Big Anxiety Festival. (image credit: Big Anxiety Festival)

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