Design Works Underway for Barunga Statement Memorial

Barunga Statement Memorial design concept

Image: Current design concept by Jensen Plus.


The Roper Gulf region holds profound significance in Aboriginal history. 

One of the most significant historic milestones to occur in the region was the call for National Treaty, where the Barunga Statement was handed to Bob Hawke at the Barunga Festival in 1988. A call for Treaty, which still does not exist today.

Through Roper Gulf Regional Council’s commitment to acknowledging our region’s history, people and vision for reconciliation, and with the help of Bagala Traditional Owners, the Barunga Statement Memorial Project came into fruition.



Barunga is a small community on the Central Arnhem Highway in the Roper Gulf region. It is home to around 330 people and hosts the annual Barunga Festival, a festival which has attracted thousands of people to the community since 1985. 

It is in Barunga that the Barunga Statement was handed to Bob Hawke, the then Prime Minister of Australia, at the festival in 1988. It is a statement of commitment to Indigenous rights and self-determination, calling for the establishment of a Treaty between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. The Barunga Statement was the result of years of discussion between Traditional Owners from all over the Northern Territory. After the festival, the Statement was presented to Parliament House where it is still on display today. A National Treaty has still not been established all these years later. 

The development of a Barunga Statement Memorial – a place to educate, meet, tell stories and reflect on the history of Aboriginal people – was an idea brought to the Council by Bagala Traditional Owners, who represent the Traditional Owners of the Barunga area.



The Barunga Statement stands as a monumental milestone within the broader history of the Aboriginal rights movement. The Barunga Statement Memorial aims to connect a series of pivotal moments in history - from the 1963 Yirrkala bark petition, through to the 2023 Voice to Parliament referendum. By reading the Barunga Statement Memorial, visitors will learn about, and have the opportunity to reflect on, the collective aspirations, struggles and achievements of Indigenous Australians. 

Learn more about the Barunga Statement here.


Design Process and Community Consultation

Roper Gulf Regional Council has been working on this project for over 12 months, undertaking extensive consultation with the Bagala Traditional Owners and community members. The concept design phase has recently been completed and the project is now in the detailed design phase. 

Council is working with Jensen Plus on the development of this project’s design as well as with local artists, who will help design the memorial with elements that reflect local traditions and stories. This collaborative approach ensures that the memorial resonates authentically with the community and culture it honours.

At the upcoming Barunga Festival on 7-10 June 2024, the Council will have detailed design concepts available for public feedback and consultation with key stakeholders. If you wish to have a look at the project design, make sure you find the Roper Gulf Regional Council stall at the festival. 


Looking Ahead

The Council will be looking to secure funding partners for this project following the 2024 Barunga Festival and progress towards completion by the 2025 Barunga Festival. The Barunga Statement Memorial Project aligns with the Council’s broader efforts to promote tourism, culture and economic development in the region. 

Roper Gulf Regional Council and Bagala Traditional Owners hope the memorial serves as symbol of resilience and reconciliation, a place to reflect, and a testament to the ongoing journey toward Aboriginal rights and recognition. 


Media Contact:

Bethany TAYLOR | Communications Coordinator | 8972 9024