In Gulkula, North East Arnhem Land over 2500 people from across Australia gathered on Gumatj Country in August this year, to celebrate the rich cultural heritage of their Yolngu hosts.

Garma Festival, now in its 20thyear, exposes its audience to a slice of Australian life not seen outside of remote communities, leaving guests often describing it as a life-altering experience.

IDX Flint Manager Grant Cameron attended this year’s event as a guest of the Telstra Foundation and agreed Garma Festival is a special experience for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. An experience he will remember for years to come.

Grant shared some of his personal highlights from this year’s festival and why he is driven by the work of the IDX Initiative.

“This year marked the 20thanniversary of the festival. It was really special to attend and to share the experience with other Telstra Foundation partners. 

It was a really diverse group of people and everyone shared their stories and the work they are doing. It’s not often that you get the opportunity or time to sit down and talk in-depth about what we are collectively working towards through our different programs, and how we can connect and collaborate.  So, it was really special.”

Attending the different forums and talks over the 4 day festival was a highlight for Grant.

“I really enjoyed the keynotes focussed on education and employment. How we need to change the education system, that mainstream education really isn’t working for remote communities. That we really need to have the local community members coming in and sharing cultural knowledge as part of the education system.”

There were also a lot of conversations around how we keep jobs in communities and how we can create jobs in communities. This was really interesting and links back to the work we are doing through the IDX Flint program. 

“I walked away saying to myself that we are really on the right track and our approach to our IDX Flint workshops, where we incorporate culture in everything we do, is right.”

Grant explained the diversity of attendees to the festival was what stood out for him.

“From startups, not for profits to corporate businesses we were all there sharing the experience together. I made a lot of new friends and connections. 

Overall Garma is a truly unique experience. It’s just so untouched up there. It’s really nice to see. It has given me renewed drive to continue to do the work we are doing.”