City News

Yabun Festival celebrates 20th anniversary at Victoria Park

A dance circle at Yabun Festival 2019. Yesterday, the event celebrated its 20th anniversary. Photo: Joseph Mayers/City of Sydney.


The Yabun Festival celebrated its 20th anniversary yesterday as people from the inner city and beyond converged at Victoria Park and its surrounds to celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture in Australia.

Victoria Park welcomed both the Corroboree and the Yabun marketplace, while the neighbouring Seymour Centre was home to the Yabun Stage, a free event featuring performances from Aboriginal country music singer Col Hardy, Maroubra-based Gomeroi hip-hop artist Kobie Dee and country/roots musician Loren Ryan.

The festivities were live-streamed on the Yabun Festival website and could be listened to through Koori Radio, and also included a legacy panel between Col Hardy, singer and songwriter Vic Simms and Nancia Guevarra, an inheritance panel with emerging leaders looking to blaze new trails, and an exploration of contemporary blak music, featuring the perspectives of Bunna Lawrie, Marlene Cummins, Nardi Simpson, Kaleena Briggs and Sydney-based hip-hop performer Brothablack.

Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore said that the event provided the “opportunity to be together, support each other and, importantly, celebrate continuing culture together”, adding that during her time in public office, she has seen crowds “grow at the Yabun Festival, and with it our community’s understanding of resistance and mourning”.

Invasion Day march 

The event came as about 4000 people gathered at Town Hall for the Invasion Day march, which also marked the 50 year anniversary of the establishment of the Aboriginal Tent Embassy in Canberra.

Speakers included Paul Silva, the nephew of David Dungay Jr., who died at the Long Bay Correctional Centre in 2015, and Palestinian activist Amal Naser, who spoke of his solidarity and shared understanding with First Nations people.

“We have been denied our right to return, our lands have been subjected to a colonial occupation,” Mr Naser said.

“Every day is Nakbar day like every day is survival day and a day of mourning for First Nations people … these days mark war, they mark genocide against Indigenous people.”

Following almost 90 minutes of speeches from First Nations speakers and allies, protesters marched to the Australian Hall in Elizabeth Street in silence and sat on the road, before continuing on past Central Station and to Victoria Park, where the Yabun Festival was taking place.

Yabun organisers said their 20th anniversary was “celebrated the way it was supposed to be” and that “it was an honour to share it” with all those who participated in the festival.

The first iteration of the Yabun Festival was held in Waverley in 2003, with the free event reliant on donations and sponsors, which include the City of Sydney and Inner West councils, for its survival.

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