Introducing Gamamari

 

UNSW’s oldest student publication is leaving its old title, and its traditional print roots, to embrace the digital age, marking a significant shift in its history. After 70 years under the iconic name ‘Tharunka,’ the publication has unveiled its new identity as ‘Gamamari,’ ushering in a new era of storytelling and activism.

With its new title, Gamamari hopes to inspire a fresh generation of storytellers to challenge conventions and shape a future defined by courage and commitment to social justice.

The publication’s new name ‘Gamamari’ (ga/mar/mar/ee), from the Dharawal language, means “talking for a purpose”. The publication has received crucial support from the Gujaga Foundation, which is the primary organisation and consulting body leading language education and protection within the La Perouse First Nations community. In collaboration with the university’s First Nations collectives such as Little Sister Big Sister, Nuri Gili and associated students, and the First Nations Business Collective, the publication has undertaken extensive steps in selecting its new name.

The much-anticipated reveal took place on the 17th of June, at a premier screening hosted by Arc, followed by a panel discussion featuring former managing editors and activists Wendy Bacon, Graeme Dunstan and Col Charlton.

The publication’s new name was announced at an event on June 17th, including a panel discussion with previous manging editors and activists. 

 

“Tharunka was born out of student activism,” says Wendy Baker, reflecting on the legacy that appeared at a time of rising feminism and censorship.

The first two editions of Tharunka led to a three-year anti-censorship campaign in 1970. Bacon was arrested twice and describes being “part of a tradition that was already established in the 60s at UNSW.”

As the discussion continued, one could see that Bacon’s passion for instigating change through storytelling lives on. Recalling her own experiences of activism in the late 60s and early 70s, she emphasised the evolving landscape of student activism and journalism in today’s world.

She mentioned that she no longer writes about things that would be deemed “un-publishable,” and instead sees herself as a “voluntary journalist,” who “writes about things that are no longer covered,” and seeks to reveal stories from a fresh perspective.

Bacon shared insights on the intersection of activism and journalism, underscoring the importance of maintaining a critical stance in the face of increasing media control and censorship.

Wendy worked at what was then Fairfax Media, and when asked whether you can be an activist and a journalist, she said, “you may be an activist for your ideas, but you can’t be an activist or you can’t work there (mainstream media).” She believes there is more media ownership, control, and censorship now compared to in the 70s. “Coming from a radical perspective, you are making compromises.”

Wendy Bacon maintains her beliefs about fighting for justice through the power of storytelling, however she believes that the conditions for young people to perform such activism are becoming “tougher.”

“There wasn’t as much a division between academics and students as there is now.”

Graeme Dunstan provided his experience from the counterculture that defined much of his identity and that of Tharunka’s from its early days, even sharing an anecdote of being stoned!

“He lives on in the ASIO files as part of the counterculture club,” Wendy said as they shared a laugh.

The change of style and name to Gamamari represents a bold step in reimagining the role of student publications and journalism in today’s digital landscape, and a movement towards correct and important representation.


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