Another first for cultural awareness

Pictured in the foreground are Arakwal representative Delta Kay, Renew Fest director Ella Rose Goninan and Uncle Magpie. Photo Jeff ‘Appropriately Cultured Since 1986’ Dawson

Culture Aware, an organisation dedicated to raising awareness around issues of native cultural appropriation has certified its first event – Renew Fest, which is set to take place at Mullumbimby Showgrounds on May 19, 20.

According to Culture Aware’s certification criteria, an event that applies is required to audit their program, content and intention to ensure that it is respectful and supportive of native traditions and cultures.

It also requires events to engage with and care for local custodians appropriately, allowing them to have cultural input within the context of the event’s ethos and purpose.

Pause and reflect

Local Arakwal representative Delta Kay said, ‘Culture Aware certification is a great way for an event to pause and reflect on their processes, and to help us all move beyond the appropriation paradigm’.

‘We all need to work together to protect native cultures and traditions, and we welcome the sincerity with which Renew Fest have approached the certification process,’ she said.

‘We hope Renew Fest will be the first of many events and festivals to receive certification, not just here in the Byron Shire, but across the world. We see certification as a tool to help all indigenous people, wherever they are, protect their culture, ceremony and traditions.’

Renew Fest director Ella Rose Goninan said that the certification process has been a deep and insightful experience.

‘We have always believed that a committed respect for indigenous culture was central to the Renew Fest mission, but we also knew that good intentions alone were not enough.

‘The protocols laid out in the Culture Aware certification process give us a great tool for taking stock of our own practices, and starting conversations with our stakeholders and suppliers.

‘We have also found that certification has opened the way for a much deeper level of engagement with local custodians. It sets out very clearly how to engage and take care of the local custodians and elders, and honour them the way they should be honoured. We look forward to welcoming Delta Kay and Uncle Magpie, a Minjunbal Yugambeh Songman, to the festival in a few weeks, and we are grateful for the energy they have given us so far,’ she said.

Renew Fest’s accreditation as a Culture Aware certified event follows Byron Community Centre’s certification as a Culture Aware venue.

All venues and events can apply for certification through

Renew Fest takes place at the Mullumbimby Showgrounds on the 19th and 20th of May, with a prelude performance at Wildspace on Friday the 18th.

As part of Renew Fest, Delta Kay will be appearing on a panel discussion called ‘Going Full-Tilt on Full-System Change’ alongside economist Helena Norberg-Hodge, Newkind Festival’s Erfan Dailiri and Dan Fitzgerald from Small Giants. For more info visit

Organisers say 100 per cent of profits go to fund COREMs 100 per cent community-owned renewable energy by 2020 vision.

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