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2016 Garma Festival Theme: The Land is our Backbone - 40th Anniversary of the Aboriginal Land Rights Act. It was fitting to acknowledge and celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Aboriginal Land Rights Act - the high watermark in Australian social justice legislation - in Arnhem Land, the birthplace of modern land rights.

The 2016 Garma Festival hosted 2650 people onsite at Gulkula, Northern Territory. 2016's Garma Festival made some important progress on a number of issues which go to the heart of Indigenous well-being.

Key Findings:

  • With the focus on the 40th anniversary of the Aboriginal Land Rights Act, the Key Forum panel on land rights demonstrated there is still much to be done in that space to ensure that Indigenous people benefit economically from land ownership.
  • The debate on Constitutional recognition was advanced with calls for a lasting settlement from YYF chairman Galarrwuy Yunupingu and other Indigenous leaders.
  • There was a reminder that Indigenous ommunities were best placed to decide what takes place on their land, under an initial communal endorsement model.
  • The Education Fair underlined the importance of life-learning and the benefits of a well-rounded education. 
  • The continuing debate over constitutional recognition of Indigenous Australians has been one of the flashpoints of discussion at Garma in recent years, and was again a major focal point at this year’s event.
  • Approximately 280 students participated in the Open Learning classrooms held on the Gulkula grounds, with five separate stations, teaching different aspects of a Yolngu curriculum.
  • The issue of youth detention was one of the hot-button topics at this year’s event after a report by Four Corners in the week leading up to Garma highlighted the mistreatment of young offenders in the NT justice system.
  • As in previous years, Garma again hosted a discussion on the funding and finance of Indigenous Affairs, with a focus on money allocated by the Commonwealth Grants Commission.
  • The board of the Yothu Yindi Foundation was delighted to host at this year’s Garma a delegation from the Tsleil-Waututh nation fromVancouver, Canada.
  • Awarding of 2016 Yolgnu Hero Djapu clan leader Barayuwa Mununggurr. Mr Mununggurr is the chairman of Miwatj Employment and Participation, a director of Laynhapuy Homelands and a member of the Northeast Arnhem Council.
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