The concept of a bush university was originally discussed in 1990 when the Yothu Yindi Foundation was originally established. The ideas behind the Garma Institute have evolved to be part of the YYF’s broad agenda, celebrating and affirming the Garma Key Forum as a major part of the annual Garma Festival, now respected as Australia’s Leading Indigenous cultural exchange event. Garma is a central plank in the Foundation’s overall Garma Institute effort, as it is effectively the hub of the “bush university” in practice.
As the Institute develops, its focus is drawn closer and closer to the needs of the Yolngu people – adult education, job readiness training, and pathways from welfare to work, re-engagement and up-skilling. Higher learning and university level exchange will have its place, but more and more the elders are seeking to provide the younger generation with a facility that meets their needs as they move toward the workplace.
For the many that have missed out on the education and learning necessary to make a life in the modern world, the Garma Institute will be a place that recognises them, respects them and gives young men and women the chance to improve their lives and be their best. It will be a showplace of, and for, the future but it will also, very importantly, be a place that is put to practical use for the benefit of all Australians. The Garma Institute will be a multi-purpose facility with a number of functions.
The Garma Institute seeks to fill an immediate gap between secondary school and employment for some Yolngu youth today. It is one component within the larger regional strategy for education, training and employment. It does not seek to provide a permanent solution for the structural challenges within the current pre-school, primary and secondary school systems. In fact, there is an important expectation that the region is taking or will be taking active efforts to implement educational reform so that young people that have graduated from pre-school, primary and secondary schools will no longer require foundational learning training in order to participate effectively in VET training and/or seek sustainable employment.
The Garma Institute seeks to evolve and improve continuously in order to meet changes in the external environment. In the future, it may be a logical next step for the Garma Institute to provide more advanced training, such as certified VET training, as the capability level of the Yolngu participants rise over time. This is also aligned with the vision of employers such as Gumatj Corporation and Pacific Aluminium.
By engaging with all key education and employment stakeholders early in the process, the Garma Institute will keep abreast and even become an active partner of the regional dialogue on the education to employment pathway for Yolngu youth in the NEAL region. Through this dialogue, the Garma Institute can look for opportunities to continue to play a supportive role as the needs of local community evolve over time.
It will include a Conference Facility and Auditorium available all year round, with accommodation on site. The facility would also be the central infrastructure for the annual Garma Festival. It will be designed in a Yolngu way as it will be a Yolngu meeting place where the senior elders of East Arnhemland can meet and make decisions about the future. These facilities can also be used by other Aboriginal Groups for meetings and other purposes. Other visitors and smaller groups to east Arnhem could also make use of the facilities.
Dhupuma College was once a substantial educational complex servicing the specific needs of Aboriginal students across Arnhem Land. The college included residential facilities for staff and students. Dhupuma College was opened by Prime Minister William McMahon in 1972.
The College provided a new and experimental approach to the education of children moving through the transitional year into community high schools. Innovative programs were designed and carefully implemented to give students support to increase their ability to succeed in education programs at a higher academic level as well as in TAFE and vocational programs. The education programs and the ways in which they were implemented were an undoubted success.
The College ran short term courses in small motor operation and maintenance, dressmaking and fabric printing, typing and office skills, a building construction course, and store management and accounting. The recreational program included pottery, gymnastics, photography, magazine production, gardening and even an ‘odd jobs’ elective. Evening classes maximized efficient use of the College’s resources.
The College was in the process of implementing a wider range of TAFE and vocational programs when it was closed abruptly in mid-1980.
This significant community loss is still felt across communities in Arnhem Land. Yolngu families have long sought the re-establishment of Dhupuma College. Senior family members have agreed with a proposal to invest significant amounts of income derived from the mining royalties in re- building a facility that can meet the specific needs that Dhupuma College addressed. The facility we plan to develop at Dhupuma/ Gulkula will support Yirrkala School and other Homeland school centres, and it should become an interlocking education network that also includes the schools in Nhulunbuy.
YYF strongly believe that our secondary college and residential school will operate successfully just as Dhupuma College once did, and the best site for the new college is Gulkula. The college will work side by side and in tandem with the Garma Institute. The land we propose for the college is already cleared. The site has power and a reliable source of water and it is serviced by a good all-weather road. Furthermore, it will be complemented by its neighbour, the Garma Institute.
Click to download PDF'S of the Dhupuma college Yearbooks. Notes these files are large.
How can I support the Garma Institute and/or Dhupuma College?
We welcome queries from those able to contribute to the establishment of the Garma Institute and Dhupuma College, Please email email@example.com with interest.
Friday 2 to Monday 5 August 2019
We look forward to keeping you up to date with all of our Garma Festival news and as a member you’ll be amongst the first to receive news and updates from the Yothu Yindi Foundation and special offers from time to time.
Sue Hayward, Develop East Arnhem Land, Victoria
Why Garma is important?
“Raising awareness about Indigenous Culture”.
Owen Norris, Djalu, Queensland
“To Support our culture and life style”.
Why I Pledge my support of the Yothu Yindi Foundation
"Because of your support to your culture and future generations."
Sharing My Memories of Garma
"I lived and enjoyed my experience and journey at the mens master class with Djalu and Milkay".
Ellen Michel, Victoria
"As a non indigenous person it is a welcome chance to look, listen and to hear: learn more Aboriginal Culture and what it means to be custodians of this land."
Bill Burdett, Victoria
“Garma is an excellent model which enables attendees to gain a broader and deeper knowledge of the issues involving indigenous Australians”.
My memories of Garma: “Standing in the meal queue and sitting at the communal tables, chatting to other attendees and learning of their reasons for attending Garma; Enjoying the beautiful country in which Garma is located; Participating in group activities; Enjoying excellent coffee!”
Rod Reeve, Northern Territory
My memories of Garma: “The conversations, cultural events, dancing, music, art, friendly people, great food and sensational environment.”
Kate Morgan, New South Wales
“Garma provides a platform for the voices of our Aboiriginal population, and those that want the best for them, coming together for the protection of this countries true heritage and to unite with common passion, care and love of our country and its peoples. The lessons learnt and shared have the opportunity to filter out to a broader population and bring strength to the messages. And so I can come and sit on the side of the bunggul everyday from beginning to end. Bliss.”
Patrick Forman, New South Wales
“Vital role in healing a nation sick at its core.”
Alistair Lee, South Australia
Why I pledge my support to the Yothu Yindi Foundation?
“This (Garma) festival should be on eveyones bucket list.”
Lisa Dhurrkay, Nhulunbuy Northern Territory
“I believe that Garma is important to ALL, Indigenous and non-Indigenous.”
Bianca Williams, Sydney
“Garma is an event that has the ability to change the way people think and feel about Aboriginal Australia. Set amongst the dropback of picturesque Yolngu country in the heart of East Arnhem Land, anyone fortunate enough to attend is encouraged to bring an open heart and mind. Garma will teach you and your organisations how to work better with Aboriginal people whilst also educating younger generations on actualities of our culture, righting the wrongs of fallacies that so strong amongst mainstream Australia.”
Bob Gordon, Tasmania
“It is very difficult for urban Australians to gain an appreciation of Indigenous culture and challenges without a forum like Garma where Yolngu share their culture. Challenging issues are discussed and debated in a spirit of openess and respect.”
Why I pledge my support?
“The bringing together of Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians to discuss and resolve issues is vitally important to our society. The music, company and bunggul is also great. Spending some time out of the Tasmanian winter is a bonus. ”
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