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CDU joins celebration of the Barunga Statement’s 35th Anniversary at annual festival

Professor Reuben Bolt ... new-look format to suit digital audiences.
CDU Deputy Vice-Chancellor First Nations Leadership and Engagement Professor Reuben Bolt is attending this year's Barunga festival, which is commemorating the 35th anniversary of the Barunga Statement.

The historic Barunga Statement, a pivotal moment in the journey towards First Nations rights in Australia, commemorates its 35th anniversary this year at the annual Barunga festival.

The festival, held in the remote community of Barunga in the Northern Territory, will be a celebration of culture, music, and reconciliation from June 9-11.

Charles Darwin University (CDU) Vice-Chancellor Professor Scott Bowman said the Barunga Statement has significantly shaped the Territory’s history.

"The Barunga Statement is a crucial document that marked a turning point in recognising Aboriginal rights to land, justice and sovereignty,” Professor Bowman said.

“It captured the spirit of First Nations communities coming together, united in their determination to assert their sovereignty and protect their cultural heritage. Its enduring impact cannot be overstated."

The Barunga Statement, presented to then-Prime Minister Bob Hawke in 1988, was a landmark declaration by First Nations leaders, representing over 200 Aboriginal communities across Australia.

The statement outlined key points including self-determination, land rights, and compensation for past injustices.

CDU Deputy Vice-Chancellor First Nations Leadership and Engagement Professor Reuben Bolt is attending the event, and said the Barunga statement’s anniversary serves as a reminder of the resilience and strength of First Nations peoples, and the importance of their voices in shaping a more inclusive and just society.

"The Barunga Statement is one of the many Northern Territory based statements that have paved the way for First Nations advancement in Australia” Professor Bolt said.

“As we celebrate its 35th anniversary, it reminds us of the not so warm relationship between First Nations peoples and former governments leading up to that significant day in 1988.

“This is part of our history, and we must therefore honour the spirit of the statement and work towards genuine reconciliation and self-determination for First Nations peoples."

The Barunga Festival, held annually since 1985, has become a symbol of cultural exchange, unity, and understanding.

This year's festival will feature a range of activities, including traditional dance performances, art exhibitions, cultural workshops, sports competitions, and live music showcasing both emerging and established First Nations artists.

CDU is a sponsor of the event this year.

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