Garma 2019 report

Pathways to our future - Garma’lili Manapanmirri Dhuarryarrany'dhun Gudarr’wu
Uluru Statement First Peoples constitutional recognition Festivals Government relations with First Peoples First Peoples education Reconciliation Arnhem Land

Garma Festival's ‘Pathways to Our Future’ theme and YYF’s focus was on the next generation and its thinking.

2019 Garma Festival hosted by the Youth Yindi foundation, had nearly 40 companies and government agencies in attendance with more than 450 participants making 2019 the biggest attendance rate to date.

Garma’s program has the remarkable ability to transcend colour, creed and race, as structures of hierarchy and status dissolve; from champions of industry, philanthropic leaders, government policy makers to academics from across the nation along with international counterparts, coming together eager to learn from a grass-roots perspective. Our corporate guests recognise how valuable this experience is in our efforts to shape the nation from a place of real connection through open and honest dialogue.


  • Yothu Yindi Foundation (YYF) CEO Denise Bowden delivered a frank assessment, saying that they were grateful for their relationship with the Department of Education, but called for a clearly conceptualised and unified approach to education and wrap around health and care services for Aboriginal students.
  • There was a consensus among the speakers, including teachers, leaders, elders that their Djamakuli (children) can only truly learn about country, on country. The education system must be brought home. The elders wanted their children to learn where there is peace and quiet and where their family is close by. Above all, they didn’t want the Djamakuli (children) to get distracted.
  • Dr Yunupingu called for a quick resolution to the ongoing public and political debate around the proposals outlined in the Uluru Statement from the Heart. “We are thinking of our Constitution, how we can change it and make it a real law for Yolŋu people as well as Balanda (non-indigenous) people,” he said. “We are doing that, asking for the rights to be accepted by the Commonwealth Government and by everybody else. "It (the Constitution) really rejects the Yolŋu people...We want to make things better so that the law must change, it must change for the Yolŋu people as well as the balanda (non-Indigenous), and they stand together as one people as a law."
  • As YYF deputy chair Djawa Yunupingu explained in his Keynote speech to the Forum on Saturday morning, Australia had come to a crossroads in its relationship with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, and that was historically a place of worry and stress for Yolŋu people. Djawa closed his speech with an emotive plea to Parliament and Australians more broadly; do the hard work to create a future where Indigenous and nonIndigenous are truly equal and balanced.
  • YYF CEO Bowden accused Governments of dining out on the misery of Aboriginal people, saying that financial maladministration and incompetence were plaguing efforts to remedy remote Indigenous disadvantage. 


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