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Garma guests urged to set sights on referendum success

Australian Associated Press -

Garma festival attendees have been urged to share a message of strength and hope about the referendum on an Indigenous voice when they return home.

The annual celebration on Gumatj country in northeast Arnhem Land, which opened on Friday, is hosted by the Yothu Yindi Foundation.

Tributes to the late land rights champion Yunupingu flowed at the festival on Saturday as the fire of his leadership passes to his brother Djawa Yunupingu.

An important meeting point for the clans and families of the region, the festival showcases traditional miny'tji (art), manikay (song), bunggul (dance) and story-telling.

Speaking at the festival on Saturday, Aboriginal activist and community leader Noel Pearson called on Australians to unite to support the 'yes' vote in the upcoming referendum on a First Nations voice.

He said a successful referendum would entwine three histories - Indigenous, British and multicultural.

"Australia is going to put behind it the idea of settler versus natives when it recognises Indigenous people as Australian," he said.

Mr Pearson challenged Garma attendees to share a message of strength and hope about the referendum when they leave the festival.

"We're going to love them on the beaches, love them at every front door, on football pitches, every railway station," he said.

Garma has also inspired a powerful alliance of land councils to gather as a united voice on issues that affect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in northern Australia.

The alliance, which includes the four Aboriginal land councils of the Northern Territory, plus Cape York and the Kimberley, said the voice referendum was the best opportunity for Australians to create the greatest turning point in the lives of Indigenous people and the nation's identity.

"This is the opportunity to give Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples a voice and with it the ability to influence governments on the policies and programs which affect them," they said in a statement.

Australian Associated Press

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