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Garma Festival 2015 - Day 1

Today I am both calm within the beauty of Arnhem land but concerned about the media’s treatment of my brother Adam Goodes. 

With the cool air blowing lightly and the hum of excitement brewing right now, there is nowhere in the world I would rather have my office than the Garma  Festival’s official kitchen and gathering area - looking out over the leafy escarpment in North East Arnhem Land here at  Gulkala. 

I flew in through Nhulunbuy yesterday.  This has given me a great opportunity to settle in before the arrival of more than two thousand guests expected for tomorrow’s opening of the annual Garma Festival on Gumatj land.  I cherish the chance to have this time and space to settle into the serenity of this sacred place. 

Garma has become a ritual for me.  It is an opportunity for networking and being part of the political conversations.  As a proud Aboriginal man, it is a time for revitalization and recovery. A special place and time on sacred land to connect with  family and find moments to sit in the timelessness of our continuing culture. Feeling the red dust settle into the soles of my feet, I feel the haze of city life fade and my surroundings give me great clarity and vision for the next 6 months.  

While I am excited to escape the southern freeze of present I am mostly relieved that I am escaping the ‘haunting and taunting‘ of Adam Goodes. 

To suggest that the booing of Adam Goodes is not a racist act is to hide behind the disgraceful vilifying of him as a person and call it something else.  You can’t look sideways on social media at the moment without finding a barrage of insulting discourse defending the right to attack Adam with the common excuses of ‘get over it, ‘harden up’, or ‘I’m not racist but…(insert racist views). It is racially motivated and it is divisive.  

Unfortunately, too often in our so called ‘lucky’ country the microphone and headlines are given to the bigots. Why should they get the final say? Racism is the enemy of reconciliation and freedom - as long as it continues, we must continue to speak out against it. 

As a nation, why are we so afraid of Indigenous passion, pride, strength and courage? When we see a ‘War Cry’ we label it as divisive and aggressive. Is it ignorance that forces people to only see aggression? Can ignorance be used as an excuse?  Those dances are a part of the people and the cultural foundations of our country.  They showcase the resilience of the oldest living culture in the world.  This is something that should be collectively embraced and celebrated, not used to incite racism or to provide justification for discrimination against an individual.  

Racism is the sickening history that shaped dysfunctional policies which deliberately disabled equality for Aboriginal Australia. And while I would love to say it is the painful past, unfortunately it is well and truly alive in contemporary Australia. 

Today my day at Gulkala, nestled in the inherited wisdom of 60,000 years will be dedicated to the strength and courage of my friend Adam Goodes.


Jeremy Donovan

CEO - GenerationOne


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