Strengthening links with Yolngu leaders 

Young dancers performing at the Garma Festival of Traditional Culture in north-east Arnhem Land (Picture by Andrea Keningston).

Each year people from diverse clan groups and cultural backgrounds gather on Aboriginal land at Gulkula in north-east Arnhem Land to talk about issues facing contemporary Indigenous society. The Garma Festival of Traditional Culture will take place from 4–8 August 2006.

The academic forum, a focal point of the Garma Festival, will be co-ordinated by Charles Darwin University (CDU).

The 2006 forum (5 – 7 August) will focus on Indigenous education and training, concentrating on education policy and practice, and examine ways to build and adapt non-Indigenous and Indigenous capacities.

CDU Vice-Chancellor Professor Helen Garnett said the Garma key forum, as a significant cultural exchange event, was no less than the ‘bush equivalent’ of the University’s prestigious twice-yearly Symposia series.

Phillip Adams—well known presenter of Radio National’s Late Night Live and regular columnist for the Australian—will chair the forum’s opening and closing sessions. On Garma, he says:

“I’m involved with the Festivals of Ideas in both Adelaide and Brisbane. Every two years we round up some of the best and brightest—a mixture of internationals and locals—and put them on stage for sizeable ‘live’ audiences and Late Night Live broadcasts. They’ve proved highly successful… BUT the festival I’ve found to be far and away the most culturally and politically significant is Garma in Arnhem Land. It couldn’t happen without the support of Charles Darwin University and is, by any measure, the most interesting and creative encounter between the academic world and a given community—in this case, an Indigenous community under extraordinary pressures. Thanks to the University, one of Australia’s most significant get-togethers of Indigenous people and the whitefella world continues this year—and Late Night Live will be there to participate in this marvellous and dynamic event. Other universities take note.”

The University’s staff and students are involved in coordinating logistics of the three-day forum, facilitating feedback for Yolngu leaders, and capturing key points of each session for the report to be published post-Garma.

The Yothu Yindi Foundation and it's Garma Festival has four Principal Partners: Alcan, The Christensen Fund, the Northern Territory Government, and the Australian Government's Australia Council for the Arts.

Web byte

About the 2006 Garma Festival, 4–8 August:
About the 2006 Garma Key Forum, 5–7 August:
View the Garma Key Forum Report 2005 on Indigenous cultural livelihoods: