Dhawu Newsletter - June 2014

Dear [Name,fallback=Friend],

Garma 1- 4 August, 2014 NE Arnhem, Northern Territory.


The Yothu Yindi Foundation has been a hive of activity since our last newsletter, with Garma 2014 rapidly approaching. If you haven't already done so, make sure you earmark the dates 1 - 4 August, 2014. Now in its 16th year, we're proud to announce that Garma 2014 introduces some very exciting new elements to this year's program, which will further cement the Festival's reputation as Australia’s leading Indigenous event on the calendar. Thanks to the drive and direction of our Chairman, Galarrwuy Yunupingu, and a very active Board, we look forward to sharing these new developments with our Garma guests.

Those who follow the news will have noticed an interesting scoop in the Arafura Times about the possibility of a media partnership between YYF and the ABC during this year's Garma. Although nothing has been confirmed as yet, we can relay that we are definitely in negotiations with the ABC, as reported by the local newspaper. We are exploring a number of options, leaning toward a possible ABC Q&A live broadcast from Garma on Indigenous Affairs. YYF Board members, together with the Garma Director has this week hosted the ABC Producer of Q&A onsite at Gulkula to scope how a live broadcast might logistically work. Arnhemland under the stars in August is such a spectacular setting, why wouldn’t the ABC want to capture that? YYF looks forward to continuing to build discussions with the ABC as we market and promote the Arnhem region, the beauty of the Yolngu culture and the resilience of its traditional owners. Watch this space!

We are all looking forward to hosting the best Garma yet in 2014, and would like to thank guests and organisations who have already confirmed their attendance, including the two Principal Partners of Garma 2014: Rio Tinto Alcan and the Gumatj Corporation. Thanks also to Sodexo, NAISDA, , St Columbans, Josh Pyke and the Indigenous Literacy Foundation, Jawun, CBA, NAB, the Australian Government's Questacon and Indigenous  AFL Programs for their support, Racism Stops With Me, RUOK?, Buku Larrnggay Mulka Centre, Dhimurru, Laynhapuy Homelands, Miwatj Health and the local schools.

The Yothu Yindi Foundation is pleased to announce details of the Qantas Garma Charter in 2014. Thanks to the support of Qantas, guests who book their travel early will have the option of securing seats aboard the charter at very competitive rates. The flights are strictly reserved for Garma patrons, and can only be booked via our official Garma Travel agent, Brad Thomas: 

Brad Thomas Entertainment Travel Partners


P  02 9280 3767   M 0403 941 184

Seating availability is strictly limited, so we encourage guests to take advantage of this opportunity as soon as possible. You will find the Garma charter rates are discounted and compare favourably to the publicly available commercial flights.

Dates and times of the charters are as follows:

Incoming: 31 JUL Darwin-Gove 19.55- 21.10

Outgoing 05 AUG Gove-Darwin 07.35- 08.45

Our official Garma Program Booklet is nearing completion, and will be made public shortly, but guests of the Festival can once again expect a program that inspires and delights. Some of the features you should expect:

  •  The official opening of Garma 2014 begins with a ceremonial blessing of the newly constructed Garma Knowledge Centre as we move toward the bunggul grounds at 4pm on Friday, 1st August.  
  • Buses will be available all day on Friday to shuttle guests to the Yirrkala Open Day. The School and Buku Larnggay Art Centre will be the two major sites of activities. Time: 8:00am to 3:30pm.
  •  The opening of the Gapan Gallery will take place on Friday evening yet again at 8:00pm. 
  • Our Key Forum begins officially on Saturday, 2nd August at 8:30am and will conclude at 12:30pm on Monday, 4th August. As in previous years, the Key Forum will host high-level discussions, debates and speeches which help shape policy decisions at the upper echelons of Government. Don't miss out on this compelling Garma feature.
  • The Garma Youth Forum also kicks off with a bang on the morning of Saturday, 2nd August, and will conclude on Monday, 4th August at 4pm.  
  • We continue with two days packed with cultural activities around the bunggul grounds, beginning Sunday, 3rd August, and finishing promptly on Monday, 4th August at 4pm. 
  • Kick up your heels during the evening on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights as Gulkula rocks out to a great line-up of musical performances. We are pleased to announce Yirrmal and the Yolngu Boys as our first artist announcement. Yirrmal and the Yolngu boys will be joined by Birritjimi’s own Barra Band and old school rockers from Maningrida, Sunrize Band. Last Kinnection join us this year too. Stay tuned to our Facebook for more artist announcements in the coming weeks.
  • Registered stall holders within the Garma Expo looks really quite interesting this year and close to full capacity. The Expo will be on display from Friday 12pm until Monday 12pm 
  •  Last but not least, our programming will keep you busy right up to the very end with a possible live broadcast of the ABC's popular current affairs program, Q and A, from the Garma site. We'd love to see your face in the audience, so take into consideration your flight departing Gove on Tuesday morning 5th August.

Put your pennies aside and start saving now! Each year, the Garma merchandise staff are run off their feet as punters get in early to secure some wonderful momentos of their time at Gulkula. The high demand for merchandise can be attributed to the stunning artwork that adorns each piece. All artwork has been produced by local Yolngu artists arranged via a partnership between YYF and Buku Larrngay Arts centre. Each piece of Garma merchandise tells a story of its own. Here's a preview of a couple of pieces of  fabulous merchandise in store for guests this year.

Alongside Djunga Djunga Yunupingu as our cultural attaché, we welcome back a stellar Garma team working hard to make this year's Festival the best Garma yet: Denise Bowden, Garma Director & YYF CEO, has been meeting with sponsors, introducing economic opportunities into the region, and promoting Garma as she sets the broad programming agenda. Marcia Langton and Sean Bowden will once again facilitate the Key Forum, which has evolved into an important national platform for discussion and debate on the crucial issues confronting Indigenous Australia today. The loveable Jack Thompson, our much-admired Garma Ambassador, leads Tai Chi classes on the Dhupuma escarpment, along with his many other official duties. Klaus Helms, our Site & Operations Manager, has been busy overseeing the construction of the Garma Knowledge Centre. The ever-reliable Frieda Munz is once again setting the pace on the ground in Gunyangara, coordinating all aspects of our event. Matty Williams returns as our Site Manager, bringing with him the energetic Nova Mikin as our trusted Operations Manager. The wonderful volunteer team will be managed by Abby Cooper again this year, with 60 volunteers already confirmed for this year's event. Madge Fletcher is coordinating the Youth Forum again for us, and as the Government brings the issue of school attendance to centre stage, we're ensuring the importance of education is heard very clearly by the 150 students participating in the Youth Forum. The bump-in and bump-out catering will again be managed by Trish Hay and her girls. Jason Frenkel joined the Garma team recently as Director of Media. With local and international media interest in Garma growing each year, we expect Jason will be extremely busy in the lead-up to this year's event. Ray Petrie will have the NT Corrections Community Working Party active as we build the Garma site. Sigrid Haworth is behind the management of our administration, with responsibility for ticketing and registration, and has also done a wonderful job keeping our website updated with the latest news.

We encourage all guests to read the Garma Guide booklet prior to registering. All answers to questions can be found here.

The cut off date for online registrations to attend Garma is strictly close of business 11 July, 2014. 

Visit the YYF website for tickets and details!

Interview with a Garma 2014 Volunteer

Name: Connor O'Bryan


Question: What keeps you coming back to Garma as a Volunteer?
Answer: Volunteering at Garma is one of the best things I have ever done in my life in terms of opening my eyes to Aboriginal culture and law. The Yolngu are so open, friendly and welcoming and the country is so beautiful. To see the culture and be part of it, if only for a short period, is so different from seeing it on TV or reading about it. It is just a special experience and one that I think is important for all Australians. The community spirit within the volunteer team is also amazing.
Question: What are you most looking forward to about Garma 2014?
Answer: Seeing the Bunggul - it was fascinating - and building on relationships with people that I met in 2013. Also learning more about Yolngu culture and way of life.
Question: What is a must bring item for all Volunteers?
Answer: Boots! I was very thankful to have my boots! Working on a remote bush site every day, having closed-toe boots was a blessing, really great to protect my feet and ankles from any scratches and avoid any nasty bites.
Question: Best piece of advice for new Volunteers?
Answer: When you are at Garma, just answer yes! Take every opportunity presented; the more you get involved and more open you are to Yolngu Culture, the better your experience will be!

Apply to Volunteer at Garma 2014

The Garma Institute

The first phase of the Garma Institute becomes a reality this year, which means there are very exciting times ahead for the region. The Institute was an original concept developed when YYF was initially established. Even then, the call for better education was a major priority for the YYF Board and it remains our main focal point since we began to develop our business plan four years ago. We have worked very hard to now witness the first phase of construction beginning with the building of the Knowledge Centre.

What is the Garma Knowledge Centre? Following the initial building plans for the Garma Knowledge Centre, we are pleased to share these images of the ongoing construction to date. Needless to say, we are eagerly awaiting the completion of the centre to coincide with the official 2014 Garma Opening ceremony.


It is a positive development to see the employment of  members of the Corrections Working Party on the construction team - prisoners are learning new skills as they serve their sentences so that they reintegrate back into the community with job-ready qualifications.

Building regulations have restricted public access to the Gulkula site while construction is ongoing. Realistically, we expect the construction deadline will go down to the wire as the Festival approaches! However, pushing the envelope is part of the YYF ethos and this is how some of those magical outcomes are created through the Garma experience.  

The Yothu Yindi Foundation Business Plan

 The Yothu Yindi Foundation has introduced the Arnhem region to the Empowered Communities model via three key avenues:

  • Providing contemporary environments and programs to practice, preserve, maintain and present traditional knowledge systems, cultural traditions and cultural practices.
  • Develop economic opportunities for Yolngu through education, training, employment, enterprise and personal and community development, including community leadership development.
  • Facilitate the sharing of knowledge and culture, thereby fostering a greater understanding between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians Business.

Download the 2013/14 Yothu Yindi Business Plan


Empowered Communities (EC)


 Garma guests last year may remember the launch of the Empowered Communities initiative. It is led by Indigenous leaders from eight regions across Australia, all of whom have come together to challenge the status quo of Indigenous disadvantage in communities. A task force of Indigenous leaders, business leaders and the Australian and State Governments is currently working on how this new relationship can be developed and enhanced. To achieve this, a new platform for Aboriginal people and governments is being created to align government action with community wants and needs, working through an agreed partnership model.

The group put a proposal to the Australian Government last year, and we're pleased that the initiative has resulted in bipartisan political support.

Empowered Communities encourages communities to drive their own local solutions in order to better support their communities at the grass roots level. Lead organisations in North East Arnhem land are the Yothu Yindi Foundation and Gumatj Aboriginal Corporation, working together with governments to design an effective model.

Who Are The Eight Leadership Groups and Where Are They From? They are from right across the country and include remote, regional and urban places:

  • Yothu Yindi Foundation and Gumatj Corporation, North East Arnhem Land, NT 
  • NPY Women’s Council, Central Australia NT
  • Wunan Foundation, East Kimberley WA
  • Kimberley Land Council, West Kimberley, WA
  • Cape York Institute, Cape York, Queensland
  • Kaiela Institute, Goulburn Murray, Victoria
  • Tribal Warrior Association, Inner Sydney, NSW
  • Darkinjung Land Council, Central Coast, NSW

Empowered Communities is still in its early stages of design but we know that it will be based on organisations and communities joining on an opt-in basis, an agenda of community responsibility, simplified funding arrangements, community-centred approaches driven by local communities, and stronger regional governance.

Engagement teams are in place throughout the regions and have begun to work with Indigenous organisations about how Empowered Communities can work for the region. You can learn more about Empowered Communities at Garma this year.

The Yothu Yindi Foundation has a prominent Steering Committee place at the Empowered Communities negotiation table.

Draft model options will be put the Federal Government by the end of 2014.

Whats New on the Education Front?


The NT Department of Education has released its final report into the Indigenous Education Review. We are encouraged to see the DoE taking measures to improve the state of education in the remote north. The Department will continue to undertake significant consultation with the community and Indigenous people themselves. If you've not had a chance to read the report, follow the link here:

Review of Indigenous Education in the Northern Territory: a Share in the Future by Bruce Wilson

The Department of Education has committed to working with the Yothu Yindi Foundation on our education hub project which will ultimately utilise the Gulkula site as a transitional training and employment centre, operational throughout the year.  Over the past four years we've gradually overhauled the entire Garma site,  creating a  functional venue  which  will enable the Foundational Learning Centre. Take a look at YYF’s planning behind this concept:

Garma Foundational Learning Project

Testimonial Competition Winner!


Announcing the winner of the Garma Testimonial competition, we’d like to congratulate the very talented Kerry Taylor, who wins a free ticket to Garma 2014 as a YYF VIP guest. Kerry’s poem, Same But Different, is a personal insight drawing on her own attendance at Garma. Her entry was successful as she primarily drew inspiration from practical Yolngu cultural language or dance and structured her poem to highlight the stark difference between the NE Arnhem Yolngu people and the broader western concept of expectations. Kerry has also managed to capture the many colourful characters that attend Garma, and different aspects of our programming. Kerry – we thank you for contributing to our competition, and look forward to welcoming you back to Garma 2014.

Read Kerry's Poem "Same, but Different: Garma 2013"


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