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NITV and SBS to Bring Garma Festival to a National Audience

[by Hannah Lambert]


Natalie Ahmat, NITV’s Head of Indigenous News and Current Affairs. Image: supplied


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National Indigenous Television (NITV) will deliver its most comprehensive coverage yet of the four-day premier Indigenous event, the 23rd annual Garma Festival, held in Gulkula, North East Arnhem Land, Northern Territory from 4-7 August, during this once-in-a-generation Referendum year.  


In addition to daily live coverage, updates and highlights across NITV’s platforms, SBS will simulcast key events, SBS News will be reporting from the festival, and SBS will also provide unique multilingual coverage including from representatives of SBS’s Hindi and Mandarin teams on the ground this year.  

Each year, the Yothu Yindi Foundation brings together Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, non-Indigenous Australians and international visitors, incorporating visual art, ancient storytelling, craft, dance and music, as well as economic, education, governance and youth forums. 


Over four days, the festival provides a platform for discussion and debate of issues affecting Yolŋu and other Indigenous Australians, with forums, panels, keynote addresses and cultural workshops, alongside traditional miny'tji (art), manikay (song), buŋgul (dance) and storytelling. 


Tanya Denning-Orman, a proud Birri and Guugu Yimidhirr woman and Director of Indigenous Content at SBS, said the network is proud to share this special event with all Australians through expanded coverage. 


“The conversations at Garma are critical to the national conversation, and this year, more than ever, Australia will be watching as the nation prepares to vote in a Referendum on an Indigenous Voice to Parliament.  


“We’re proud to provide distinctive coverage that captures and connects all Australians with the culture and ceremony, alongside news and current affairs on NITV – and across the SBS network – that will keep all Australians informed of the latest updates and insights from the four-day festival.  


“NITV has a long-standing relationship with the Yothu Yindi Foundation, and we can’t wait to be up in Gulkula once again, delivering more than ever before for mob and all audiences across the content, at this critical time. 


“Of course this year, we will also come together at the festival to reflect and celebrate the legacy of revered Yolŋu Elder, leader of the Gumatj clan and trailblazer Yunupingu, who dedicated his life to the land rights movement and improving the lives of his people.”  


The 2023 NITV broadcast, led by NITV’s Head of Indigenous News and Current Affairs, Natalie Ahmat, will deliver breaking news, capture debate, speeches, discussions, arts, culture, and analysis across the four days of the festival. NITV will meet with business leaders, political figures, thought leaders, academics, and journalists during the festival. 


NITV’s Indigenous News and Current Affairs team will be on the road in North East Arnhem Land, bringing audiences Yolŋu stories from the Top End. Nula will broadcast live from Garma on NITV on Friday, 4 August from 3pm, followed by the official opening ceremony at 4.30pm, with both simulcast on SBS. 


In addition, NITV’s flagship news and current affairs program The Point: Referendum Road Trip will present a special Garma episode, premiering on Tuesday, 8 August at 7.30pm and simulcast on SBS, hosted by John Paul Janke and Narelda Jacobs.  


SBS News will also be on the ground, providing updates on SBS World News each night of the festival, alongside coverage across its platforms.  


SBS’s unique multilingual coverage will bring all the news and action from the event to multicultural communities across Australia, with reporters from SBS Hindi and SBS Mandarin also attending Garma to deliver coverage across the SBS Audio network.    


Last month, the Yothu Yindi Foundation (YYF) and NITV announced the signing of a three-year partnership that will see NITV extend its support of the Garma Festival through until the end of 2025. 


NITV and the SBS network’s comprehensive coverage schedule includes: 


NITV News: Nula  

Friday 4 August at 3pm on NITV and SBS.  

Watch a special, live edition of Nula from the 23rd Garma Festival at Gulkula, a significant Yolŋu ceremonial site in North East Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory.   


Garma Opening Ceremony 

Friday 4 August at 4.30pm on NITV and SBS. 
NITV brings you the sounds, speeches and culture of the opening ceremony of the Garma Festival, live from Gulkula, in North East Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory. 


Garma Forums: 
Watch all of the key forums live from Garma Festival in the Northern Territory. Saturday morning includes a keynote address from the Australian Prime Minister, The Hon Anthony Albanese. 

  • Day 1, Morning Sessions 
    Saturday 5 August at 9am on NITV and SBS. 

  • Day 1, Afternoon Sessions 
    Saturday 5 August at 1.30pm on NITV.  

  • Day 2, Morning Sessions 
    Sunday 6 August at 9am on NITV and SBS.  


Garma Buŋgul 
Saturday 5 August and Sunday 6 at 6.30pm on NITV. 
Take in the graceful movement of the women and the strong songs of the men at the buŋgul, a Yolŋu cultural ceremony with over sixty thousand years of connection to Country.   


NITV News: Garma  

Monday 7 August at 7.30pm on NITV.  

An hour-long recap of highlights from Garma Festival, held in North East Arnhem Land. Hosted by Natalie Ahmat and NITV’s Indigenous News and Current Affairs team, the program will include all of the key moments from the weekend of celebration and reflection.  


The Point: Referendum Road Trip 
Tuesday 8 August at 7.30pm on NITV and SBS.  

This special episode of The Point: Referendum Road Trip will be recorded at Garma Festival. Hosted by proud Wuthathi and Meriam man John Paul Janke and Whadjuk Noongar woman Narelda Jacobs, The Point is the home of First Nations perspectives, informing all Australians in the lead up to the Referendum on an Indigenous Voice to Parliament. This season, The Point travels throughout Australia to share voices from communities, engage in debate and provide insightful analysis about the Referendum.  







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