Galiwin’ku Healthy Life Style Festival
The Galiwin’ku Healthy Life style festival started in 1998 and was managed by the Ngalkanbuy Health Clinic. The festival, in September each year, is unique in the NT because of both its isolation and commitment by the community to plan and run it themselves and to involve every organisation in town.
The festival committee ensures, and delivers a broad range of activities where for a week the entire community, schools and families focus on health, nutrition and healthy living. The strong arts activities and skills of the community are an integral part of the programs and health education is delivered by local people, Aboriginal artists and Health Workers, using the arts with messages in language and symbols that all can understand.
Gurrumul, along with his band of many years, Saltwater Band, has had a long-term role in this Festival. The Foundation has stepped forward to support the festival and the Ngalkunbuy Health clinic in making the festival develop its own programs and live on well into the future.
Held annually on the Queen’s birthday long weekend June in the small community of Barunga, the Festival is now in its 29th year, earning its place as one of the most important Indigenous festivals in regional Australia.
This much-loved Territory event has a long history of showcasing the Katherine region as Barunga locals and countrymen from all over the Top End welcome visitors from far and wide to come together to celebrate the positive aspects of remote Indigenous community life.
The Festival is embedded in our nation’s history as home of the ‘Barunga Statement’ – presented to Prime Minister Bob Hawke outlining the request for a Treaty between the Commonwealth Government and Indigenous Australia, and inspiration for Yothu Yindi’s hit song ‘Treaty’.
Visitors from around the country are invited to travel to the Barunga community, set up camp and be part of a vast program of cultural and artistic workshops, dancing ceremonies, traditional bush tucker gathering, didgeridoo making, basket weaving and a huge 3-day line up of sport, contemporary music, circus, kids activities, workshops, delicious healthy food and many other festival treats for the whole family.
“The meaning of the word Barunga is ‘a happy place for families to live’, and that’s exactly what we want for the festival, a happy place for people to come and enjoy themselves” – Jamie Ahfat, Barunga Community Member, 2014
“The Barunga Festival is one of Australia’s great cultural events… a highlight of the year” – Adam Giles, NT Chief Minister, 2014
“Barunga Festival is one of those gems in the cultural fabric of our beautiful country. It’s a beautiful weaving of worlds. Ancient and contemporary, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, Sport and Song. Events of this kind of magnitude, potency and relevancy are rare and should be celebrated far and wide. This is the kind of festival that changes the way you see the world forever.” John Butler, performer, 2013