Held on Jawoyn land in my electorate of Arnhem, the Barunga Festival provides an opportunity for everyone from all walks of life to come together and celebrate Indigenous community life. There is always so much to enjoy – cultural events, sports, music and dance.
This year’s Barunga Festival was an especially important moment in Australia’s history, as it marked the 35th anniversary of the landmark Barunga Statement.
The Barunga Statement’s message is particularly significant this year as Australians are being asked to embrace and consider an Indigenous Voice to Parliament. Minister for Indigenous Australians Linda Burney and Assistant Minister Malarndirri McCarthy spoke about the importance of honoring the legacy of the Barunga Statement and voting ‘yes’ when the nation is called to the polls later this year for the referendum.
There was also a massive line-up of Northern Territory talent from around the region – Yilila, Blekbala Mujik, Yung Milla and the Emu Sisters were just some of the great performances over the weekend.
It is always so great to see the local talent and those in attendance were thrilled by the music. The festival also provides an opportunity to boost tourism and support businesses in the Big Rivers region, as visitors look to experience everything the area has to offer.
Visitors were invited to immerse themselves in Aboriginal culture and I saw people participating in workshops like spear making, bush medicine and weaving.
On Saturday afternoon, I spoke alongside Minister for Arts and Culture Chansey Paech and danced, with my daughter and family – the Red Flag Dancers from Numbulwar – as a part of the Bungul to officially open the festival. It was a proud moment for me to be teaching my daughter her culture.
My experience as not only the local representative, but also as festival goer was phenomenal. I camped with my family and I was so glad to be immersed in such a great event.
A huge thank you for putting on a top notch event to the Bagala clan of the Jawoyn people, Campaign Edge Sprout, the volunteers and all of the sponsors for the event for making the weekend possible.
Barunga Festival 2023 was run by Bagala Aboriginal Corporation and supported by the Northern Territory Government through Northern Territory Major Events Company. Make sure you mark down Barunga Festival in the calendar for next year.