06 December 2010
Indigenous festivals boost wellbeing
Indigenous singer and songwriter Emma Donovan performed at the report launch.
Cultural festivals have been found to have powerful effects on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander wellbeing, according to RMIT University research.
Dr Mark Bin Bakar, Chairman of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Arts Board, unveiled the findings of the Indigenous Cultural Festivals and Community Wellbeing in Australia report in Sydney at the Australia Council for the Arts.
Research leader and co-author of the report, Dr Peter Phipps of the Globalism Research Centre at RMIT, said the research proved cultural festivals improved the wellbeing of Aboriginal Australian communities.
"The research indicates beyond all doubt that cultural festivals promote an experience of social inclusion, positive institutional engagement and broadened opportunities for Indigenous Australians," Dr Phipps said.
"There are now over 100 Indigenous festivals that take place across the country.
"From tiny community events in a local school hall in a remote area to communities coming together at a footy ground, to big national events - the research has shown that these events matter deeply to Indigenous people, and are important ways to renew Indigenous cultures."
Dr Phipps pointed to the opportunity for Government policy leaders to build on these benefits by investing more resources into Indigenous community festivals.
"Stable growth in the sector offers further opportunities for employment and small business development in addition to its proven effectiveness in social and educational engagement for a generation at risk of falling outside both cultures," he said.
The research was funded by the Telstra Foundation and the Australian Research Council.
Former Co-Chair of Reconciliation Australia and Telstra Foundation board member, Dr Jackie Huggins, said festivals were a fantastic way to celebrate culture and pass it on to our children.
"I see the enormous pride in our people's faces when they share their skills in arts and culture with other Australians," she said.
A key finding of the report highlighted that Indigenous festivals are a leading space of innovation in creating a sustainable, secure and mature national culture for all Australians based on cross-cultural recognition, respect, exchange and creativity.