Notes from Garma: Day 1

3:30am. The alarm rings and it’s about 5 degrees outside at home in Mulgoa, today is a long travel.

First up is the launch of the MEGT VTEC in Melbourne. MEGT has been contracted to deliver 250 jobs with 200 of those positions committed by Melbourne’s Crown Casino. Minister for Employment and Trade, Louis Asher spoke strongly of the commitment and significance of the VTEC demand led training model.

Not only was it great to stand near the banks for the Yarra River and acknowledge the commitment of the Employers and MEGT, but I was able to get back to the roots of my stage career and open and close the event with the Yigi Yigi (didgeridoo). This was the prelude to the week ahead.

From Melbourne the journey to Garma began. Gulkala – the home of Garma – is a great gathering place where Indigenous political affairs and Yolgnu culture collide. In the same breath, we find the place to dance together, where the sharing of these two worlds are in balance.

Garma holds a special place for me, it is a place of significant healing. It is the home of the Yidaki. Djalu Gurruwiwi is the custodian of this sacred instrument and my adopted Yolgnu family. The Yidaki (Yolgnu name) also known as didgeridoo was the dream that gave me the keys to the world.

It was my passport to hope.

During the ride to Gulkala from Gove airport I sat next to Jack Thompson, one of the most legendary voices in Australian screen. He afforded me the time of sharing his journey into the lives of Yolgnu people and his incredible passion for the advancement of Aboriginal Australia.

Listening to Jacks voice is an Australian lullaby. On arrival into camp my tent was next to Jack's and as I laid my head on my pillow I soon learnt the sound of Jack sleeping was like listening to rolling thunder on the horizon.

Getting my shoes off and feeling the red soil begin to seep into the soles of my feet was soothing. So too, the power of fire and the embrace of the smoke was so cleansing. The realisation that I was getting closer to my true self.

Over the next 4 days of forums and discussions we listened to the voices of the people in attendance. On Friday 1 July, the much anticipated, ‘Creating Parity’ Forrest review into Indigenous employment and training was released publicly and attracted attention of Australia.

We spoke to Indigenous leaders from across the country and heard their feedback on the review.

I believe that is a large step in the right direction to ending the disparity.

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