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Barunga Festival: celebrating the 35th anniversary of the landmark Barunga statement

Rhiannon Clarke -

The Barunga Festival is celebrating their 35th anniversary of the landmark Barunga statement this weekend.

The Barunga statement is an important movement in Australian history as it called on the Commonwealth Government to recognise the rights of Aboriginal people.

Since 1985 the festival has been held annually, celebrating Indigenous community life through music, sport and culture.

This year around 4,000 people are expected to descend on the 400-strong Barunga community, south-west of Katherine, from 9-12 June 2023.

Visitors are invited to immerse themselves in Aboriginal culture through performances and workshops including spear making, bush medicine and weaving.

On Saturday afternoon there will be a Welcome to Country and Bungul to officially open the festival.

Barunga Festival 2023 is run by Bagala Aboriginal Corporation and supported by Northern Territory government through Northern Territory Major Events Company.

At Barunga, Northern Territory Ministers and Department Chief Executives took part in a panel discussion as part of a meeting of the four Northern Territory Aboriginal land councils.

Barunga Festival 2021. Image: Supplied by Barunga Festival

Chief Minister Natasha Fyles said: "Barunga Festival showcases the world's oldest living culture through song, dance, art and sport, providing an opportunity for everyone to come together and learn from each other."

"The festival also provides an opportunity to boost tourism and support businesses in the Big Rivers region, as visitors look to experience everything the area has to offer," she said.

"This year's Barunga Festival is even more special as it marks an important anniversary of the Barunga Statement at a pivotal time in our country's history, ahead of the Voice referendum later this year."

Member for Arnhem, Minister Selena Uibo said: "Held on Jawoyn land in my Electorate of Arnhem, the Barunga Festival provides an opportunity for everyone to come together to celebrate through cultural events, football, music and dance."

"This year's Barunga Festival takes place at an important moment in Australia's history, with Australians being asked to embrace the idea of an Indigenous Voice to Parliament later this year."

Lastly Barunga Festival event co-cordinator Anya Lorimer said 2023 is the 35th anniversary of the Barunga Statement, and this year's festival has attracted national media.

"We are already getting calls about dates for next year from interstate visitors," she said.

"Traditional Owners, Roper Gulf Regional Council and other stakeholders all want to grow this event and maintain the highest of cultural integrity for years to come."

Tickets to the Barunga Festival are on sale at


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