Talking education at the Garma festival
The Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Jenny Macklin, today officially opened the 2011 Garma festival at Gulkula in North East Arnhem Land.
The annual event celebrates traditional Aboriginal culture and brings together Aboriginal people, performers, government, business, professionals and academics from around the country and the world.
“It is an honour to be at Garma again and to see old friends, meet new ones and continue important discussions on a shared, stronger future that continues to address challenging issues in the Northern Territory and beyond,” Ms Macklin said.
Each year Garma hosts a key forum and the theme for this year is Academic Excellence and Cultural Integrity.
“The critical need for Indigenous children to gain a good education has been something we have heard repeatedly from individuals and communities we have been speaking to as part of the Stronger Futures in the Northern Territory discussions,” Ms Macklin said.
“I’m pleased education will also be a focus here at Garma and I look forward to seeing the reports from the key forum.”
The Australian Government has provided a range of funding to help ensure the continued success of Garma.
This includes $2 million from the Aboriginals Benefit Account (ABA) for the establishment of the Garma Cultural Studies Institute and $185,000 to further support Garma 2011.
Additionally, the Gong Wapitja Women’s Program that operates during the festival received $85,000 from FaHCSIA’s Indigenous Women’s Program to undertake leadership and mentoring programs and to strengthen women’s cultural traditions.
The Minister for Resources, Energy and Tourism, Martin Ferguson and the Minister for Indigenous Health, Warren Snowdon also attended the festival opening, with Senator Trish Crossin attending the festival over the weekend.
Mr Ferguson congratulated the Yolgnu Traditional Owners for their work on the festival and on the recent signing of the historic Gove agreement with Rio Tinto Alcan.
“This agreement provides a range of economic and employment benefits for traditional owners and for the region,” Mr Ferguson said.
“It is an example of the way negotiated mining agreements can provide long-term intergenerational benefits to improve the lives of Indigenous Australians.”
“The Garma Festival also provides an important economic boost for the region and is a not to be missed event for so many people,” Mr Snowdon said.
“Garma is one of the Northern Territory’s key events that provides an opportunity to drive Indigenous policy and research which attracts people from near and far,” Senator Crossin said.