GARMA FESTIVAL 2011
‘The vision of the Yothu Yindi Foundation is for Yolngu and other Indigenous Australians to have the same level of well-being and life opportunities and choices as non-Indigenous Australians.’ – Garma Festival 2011 Background Notes
The MAP project was represented at the 2011 Garma Festival of Traditional Culture in Arnhem Land. Garma is presented by the Yothu Yindi Foundation, a not-for-profit organisation. The foundation aims, among other things, to support the practice, preservation, maintenance and presentation of traditional knowledge systems and cultural practices, and to share knowledge and culture, fostering greater understanding between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and non-Indigenous Australians.
The theme of the festival was ‘Academic excellence and cultural integrity’, and many of the discussions were relevant to the idea of progress as it relates to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (ATSI) peoples. A strong theme was the recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the Australian Constitution. Other themes included health, education, knowledge and creative industries. People spoke of striving for academic excellence across cultural contexts, and preparing young ATSI Australians to achieve their full potential. They spoke of the potential for reconciliation and collaboration in Australia to be world leading, and discussed systematic approaches to improving child health.
‘... cultural structure is vital for social cohesion, for holding communities and clans and families together and therefore for community development – and that includes economic development and even economic opportunities through that culture – and community well-being.’ – Garma Festival 2011 Background Notes, Mandawuy Yunupingu, former Deputy Chairman of the Yothu Yindi Foundation
Excerpt from Mick Gooda’s speech at Garma Festival, 2011
At Garma in 2011, there was unanimous agreement that success in education is a crucial and fundamental component for achieving success in every dimension of life including health, employment, environment, economy and technology, and critical to reducing the inequalities that are currently experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
‘…My friend ... from Perth who, when asked what type of future he’d like to see for us, put it like this. It’s a vision that I share and I want to share it with you. [He] said:
“I want for me and my children – as I do for you and your children – to grow really, really old together – having led fantastic lives that have allowed us to make a lifetime contribution to the health and well-being of the broader community and our families.
I want to know that when we were tested by life’s challenges, that we pulled together to face them as a people; that we drew upon the best of what we had, to find positive solutions to the things that have tested us along the way.
I want to know that, purposively, we took on and changed those things that we felt do not reflect what we want in a fair, honest, respectful and harmonious society.
I want that we learn to hold and to celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and history as an essential part of the Australian story because we see ourselves as part of it – connected to it, proud of it and centred by it.”
I want a truly reconciled community: a truly reconciled Australia. And I want that we all want it.’ (Gooda 2011)