Garma Festival 2023
On Gumatj Country, the homelands of the Yolngu Yunupingu family
This August, the Curtin School of Allied Health leadership team, as well as Michael, Michelle and Stella, had the incredible opportunity to attend the 2023 Garma festival in Gukula on Gumatj Country, the homelands of the Yolngu Yunupingu family.
We spent four nights camping in tents at the festival with around 2,700 other people, sharing food and experiences. Some of the activities included:
Attending panels and forums, such as those hosted by clan leader Djawa Yunupingu, PM Anthony Albanese, several artists, Yolngu Community members and young people.
Listening to some deadly music, like King Stingray and Yothu Yindi
Pandana weaving with Yolngu Elders and Community members
Watching and dancing at the Bungul grounds
Going to the Gapan Gallery in Gukula and the Yirrkala Buku Gallery (home of the Yirrkala Bark Petitions)
The Escarpment Walk
Saying hello to our favourite volunteers, Grace and Zoe
The purpose of our trip was to immerse CSAH staff in both learning about Cultural knowledges and learning through ways of being. The authentic representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cultures across the different disciplines is dependent on the knowledge and experiences of the course coordinators and educators; you need to know yourself before you can teach others. With the Voice Referendum nearing, this opportunity has improved the confidence and competence of staff in having courageous conversations with colleagues, family and friends, and in answering questions posed by students.
Upon reflecting, many staff shared that the experience was transformative due to the rich cultural activities and how the time spent there encouraged them to practice listening and the debakarn ways of being we have been learning from Nyoongar Elders back home. Another key takeaway was the generosity of the local Community and Elders, as well as the festival attendees. Being invited to join different groups at dinner, having cultural knowledge shared so openly, friendly conversations in queues, and being taught cultural skills, like weaving, were just a few examples of the generosity and reciprocity embedded in the spirit of Garma and in the Gumatj Community.