The Galiwin’ku Festival was held during the week of June 24, 2019. The Festival was designed as a healthy lifestyle event, with health messages embedded in all of the activities. The key messages delivered throughout the week were:
- NO SMOKING
- EAT HEALTHY
- HEALTHY SKIN, AND
- NO SUGAR DRINKS
The community of Galiwin’ku is one of the 3 largest remote communities in Australia, and as an island community finds it challenging to organise opportunities to bring the community together and express themselves through contemporary and traditional arts and cultural activity. The Galiwin’ku Healthy Lifestyle Festival is one way to do this and at the same time allows for healthy lifestyle messages to be shared using all facets of arts, music and dance.
The Festival was supported by One Disease, Northern Territory Primary Health Network, ArtsNT, Miwatj, Gurrumul Yunupingu Foundation, East Arnhem Regional Council and Seaswift. This support and sponsorship is crucial for a remote community, where getting to the island by air is extremely expensive and equipment has to be transported by sea.
The Gurrumul Yunupingu Foundation collaborated with One Disease staff to design and produce health promotion materials. One Disease is a non-profit organisation that aims to eliminate Crusted Scabies from remote Indigenous communities in Australia.
The making of a banner to promote healthy skin for children was a festival highlight with artistic activities taking place as part of the school fete. Fifty children participated in this event. Yolgnu workers assisted with the language translation.
With advice from the One Disease team, adults and children developed two sticker designs around the healthy skin theme. These stickers were used in activities with the kids while the One Disease Team delivered health education sessions house to house, and to larger groups at the basketball courts.
Friday and Saturday was party central. The entire community came together to experience the local music and culture of this small isolated vibrant place. The event was an overwhelming success, with record participation in all events and an enthusiastic response to the health messages.
Given the isolation of Galiwin’ku and the major logistical exercise of setting up a music and dance festival the remarkable talent and diversity of artists can only be described as a triumph. Very few remote communities in Australia would be able to present such an impressive line-up of acts, 14 of them local.
The locals included the following dance groups:
Margaret & Torah, Wamutjan, Rainbow Girls, Saltwater Girl, B Boys, Hero Boys, 2 Impact, Rec Hall Boys, Chookie Girls, Breezy Boys, Djuk Boys.
And the following musicians entertained the enthusiastic audiences with a diverse range of music sung in English and Indigenous first languages.
Music: Wirringya Band, Dharrawah Band, My Boys Are Good Boys, Sea Band, Mungu Sea Band, Marcus Lacey, Galiwin’ku Youth Band, Crystal Clear, Dick Munungu, Datjin Barrarwanga, Eylandt Band.
Where to from here
‘Planning for 2020 has already begun. The search for greater financial support from the non-grant sector and local businesses will be an important goal for 2020. The committee is keen to generate enough support so that a band from outside Galiwin’ku can headline the 2020 festival. ‘
Gurrumul Yunupingu Foundation July 2019