Celebrating Yolŋu Culure and Raising Health Crisis Awareness

The annual Garma Festival, held at Gulkula on the Gove Peninsular, is a 4-day festival that celebrates Yolŋu life and culture. Hosted by the Yothu Yindi Foundation, Garma Festival is the largest Indigenous gathering in Australia. It sees Yolŋu and balanda; politicians and media representatives; musicians and artists; and leaders in business, academia, health, and philanthropy attend from all over Australia and around the world.

Garma Festival weekend is an exciting time for Miwatj Health staff. Not only does it see an influx of people coming to appreciate our beautiful Miwatj region, it’s an opportunity for us to raise awareness about the state of health across East Arnhem Land. This year, we had the opportunity to do that four ways:

  1. At the Miwatj Health Bush Clinic;
  2. At the Raypirrir Rom tent;
  3. Through activities held at the Miwatj Public Health tent; and
  4. Via conversations and interviews held with our CEO, Steve Rossingh.

Miwatj staff worked hard across the weekend to showcase the work we do in East Arnhem Land. There were opportunities to educate, promote, and celebrate—a fantastic weekend of information sharing and discussions across age groups, genders and backgrounds.

Miwatj Health Bush Clinic

This year, the Miwatj Health Bush Clinic was held in a fixed structure provided by the Yothu Yindi Foundation. Staff worked in shifts to provide emergency medical care to Garma attendees. A huge thankyou to all the nurses, GPs and AHPs who manned the Bush Clinic over the weekend—what a great service to be able to provide at such an iconic festival in our region.

Miwatj Raypirri Rom at Garma

The Miwatj Raypirri Rom team saw an impressive 266 people come through their tent at Garma 2023. Set up under the shade of the trees at Gulkula, the team donned their Yaka Mari (No Fighting) shirts and held a Family and Domestic Violence (FDV) engagement stall. In the stall, the team used their FDV Question Wheel to start conversations with the community. Visitors were encouraged to spin the wheel and answer the question it landed on. This activity allowed the Raypirri Rom team to have safe, appropriate and thought-provoking discussions about violence with a diverse target audience.

Public Health Garma Engagement

Miwatj Health’s Public Health team took a range of activities and educational resources to Garma this year. Across the four days, they:

  • Offered Yaka Ŋarali education (part of the national Tackling Indigenous Smoking initiative);
  • Ran a Healthy Wäŋa Competion—the winner walking away with a healthy home prize pack and visit from the team;
  • Talked about manymak ŋatha, while visitors looked at our Nutrition team’s healthy food resources and rode the Miwatj Smoothie Bike; and
  • Took part in buŋgul (ceremonial dance) and important conversations about health alongside members of the Miwatj Leadership team, Raypirri Rom, and the Miwatj Health Bush Clinic staff.

Conversations to Spark Change

The common goal of all the activities and services Miwatj Health staff provided at Garma 2023 was to start conversations to spark change. Whether through the Bush Clinic, Raypirri Rom, or the Public Health tent, staff worked tirelessly to spread the word about what Miwatj Health does throughout East Arnhem Land and why we need more people on board to support us in our efforts as health service providers.

Miwatj CEO, Steve Rossingh, summed it up perfectly in his interview with Nova Peris OAM during the Garma Festival weekend, when he said “Yolŋu deserve much better”. To read more about what they talked about during the interview, click here.