Senator McCARTHY: I'd like to speak about a book launched recently called Writing in the Sand by Matt Garrick. It's the story of Yothu Yindi . It was a wonderful and significant moment when this launch took place because they had current and former band members of Yothu Yindi who were there in force along with their families. The famous band, so well known and loved, achieved what no-one had ever done before them, and I want to talk a little bit about them.
Through music that combined traditional manikay, bilma and yidaki with contemporary rock and roll, they shared the stories, language and culture of Yolngu from north-east Arnhem Land, right across Australia and the world. Yothu Yindi started as a bunch of Yolngu and balanda playing rock and roll together in the Top End in the mid-eighties. They ended up touring this country and the world. They were inducted into the Aria Hall of Fame, won many awards and became a household name both here and overseas.
The late lead singer's wife, Yalmay Yunupingu, spoke of Dr M as a builder of bridges between all races. A legend of Australian rock and roll, he was also a human rights advocate as well as a pioneer educator. As principal of Yirrkala School, he had a vision to implement Both Ways education. He always talked about balance. Balance was his universal weapon, his message of hope, truth and peace. His unique vision extended further with the establishment of the Yothu Yindi Foundation along with other clan members in 1990, and since 1999 this foundation has presented the annual Garma Festival—a significant cross-cultural event which many of us have attended and learned from.
The legacy of Yothu Yindi band has been captured in the newly launched book Writing in the Sand. Through music that combined traditional languages and contemporary rock and roll, they shared the stories, language and culture of Yolngu from north-east Arnhem Land.