Yabun – a diverse and instructive experience
Being a first-time visitor to Yabun, I was intrigued by the program at the Speak Out Tent, where I spent most of the day. I was waiting for the final panel to begin when an Indigenous woman sat down next to me and starting chatting. She asked me where I was from and when I told her that I wasn’t Aboriginal, asked me what my interest was. I stammered out a response about being a teacher and wanting to learn more about Aboriginal culture, but she wasn’t convinced and it was certainly the case that throughout the day I heard many mixed messages about the role I had to play in Indigenous Australia.
The Yabun festival was a diverse and instructive experience which gave me some insight into aspects of contemporary and historical indigenous culture, politics, sociology and community.
The keynote address, by Amelia Telford from Seed, Australia’s first Indigenous youth climate network, was a fascinating look at their campaigns, particularly the movement protesting gas fracking in the Northern Territory.
During a panel entitled Earth and Sky, Michael Anderson, among others, spoke about Indigenous astronomy and how the stars align with the Earth, resulting in the Songlines.
Speaking about the Brewarrina fish traps, one of the oldest human constructions on the planet, was Fel McHugh, during a panel entitled Monuments, Memorial and Moments in Time, which also explored Brenda Croft’s exhibition focused on the Gurindji Walk-Off of 1966, seminal to the land rights movement. The final panel for the day, entitled Which Way Now?!, focused on the idea of Treaty and how it is to be achieved, and the consequences of such legislation, with a great diversity of opinion.
The Yabun festival was an experience that all Australians should have, leaving me with a desire to continue to explore and learn more about the diverse cultures of Aboriginal Australia and Australians.