Guest Article - Centre for Social Impact

The 2020 Danjoo Koorliny Walking Together Social Impact Festival was hosted during the Noongar season of Djilba (August and September) with thousands of people attending a range of events.

The festival forms part of a globally unique Aboriginal-led, large-scale, long-term, systems-change project to help Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people walk together towards 2029 and beyond. The year 2029 will mark 200 years of colonisation in Perth and most of Western Australia (Albany will be in 2026). With nine years left to go, all West Australians have been invited on a collective journey by those with over 60,000 of connection to this place - our Aboriginal Elders.

The project and festival are designed and led by Dr Noel Nannup OAM, Dr Richard Walley OAM, Professor Emeritus Colleen Hayward AM and Carol Innes, working in partnership and collaboration with numerous other Elders, leaders and organisations.

“Lots of our conversations are leading those of us in Western Australia to the quite arbitrary date of 2029,” Professor Hayward said. “And lots of us working in this space - conversing with others, and generally trying to progress things so there really is social impact and change - recognise that by the time 2029 comes around, we want this place to be different. And we want it to be sufficiently different for the state’s bicentennial to be marked by inclusive involvement of all of us, especially first Australians, and that it is not something that is so frustrating and so demeaning that it is marked by only protests.”

As part of the festival there is an Elder-Leader briefing for senior leaders across business, government and the not-for-profit sector to reflect on how we are tracking, and what we need to focus on in the coming year(s). At this year’s briefing the first of a number of Danjoo Koorliny ambassadors were announced; so far they include Professor Fiona Stanley AC and the Governor of Western Australia the Honourable Kim Beazley AC.

“Between now and the bicentennial of European settlement in Perth, 2029, the community has been invited by the Noongar nation on a walk of spiritual unity and respect,” the Governor said. “We are privileged to share this continent with the oldest civilisation on earth...people who really understand this land where stories and science permeated the emergence of a rich culture which was the heart of their survival. It is now offered to all of us – a spiritual journey which will advance the spirit and character of the whole community. That is worth a celebration.”

There will be annual festivals as we walk together towards 2029. The festival moves seasons every year and will align with other organisations and initiatives hosting events in that season. The first Danjoo Koorliny festival was held last year in the season of Makuru (July and August) with the theme of ‘fertility’ and the corresponding social theme of conversation. This theme then set the tone for the year that followed. This year's festival was hosted in the season of Djilba, with ‘incubation’ now being the theme until next year’s festival. In 2021 the festival will take place in October and November in the season of Kambarang (‘birth’). And so on, until 2029...and beyond. We look forward to walking together with you.

As Dr Nannup has said, “It has to be about the collective.”

To learn more about the Danjoo Koorliny project, read this year’s festival wrap-up, or visit this year’s festival website.

This article has been submitted by the Danjoo Koorliny Team.

Acknowledgement of Country

The Committee For Perth acknowledges the traditional custodians throughout Western Australia and their continuing connection to the land, waters and community. We pay our respects to all members of the Aboriginal communities and their cultures; and to Elders both past and present.