Indigenous researcher is NT’s senior of the year

16-Nov-2017

Kathy Guthadjaka and Professor Ruth Wallace

Kathy Guthadjaka and Professor Ruth Wallace


A senior elder who has worked as an educator and researcher in her community for more than five decades is this year’s Northern Territory Senior Australian of the Year.

Kathy Guthadjaka, also known as Gotha, is a senior elder from Gäwa, a small family community on Elcho Island in East Arnhem Land. Warramiri, the language spoken in Gawa, is endangered.

Working as an educator since the mid-1960s, Ms Guthadjaka’s research spans Warramiri language, knowledge, culture and country, and more widely, Aboriginal education, both-ways education, spirituality, identity and religion.

A part-time Senior Research Fellow at the Northern Institute at CDU, Ms Guthadjaka is dedicated not only to preserving traditional knowledge, but also to sharing this knowledge with the greater global community.

She has worked on several collaborative research projects sharing her Aboriginal knowledge and expertise including a seasonal calendar detailing the “Gurruwilyun Yolngu seasons – Gawa, – The changing seasons in east Arnhem Land”.

As an educator she has collected photographs, stories and language for many years and hopes to use digital technologies to develop educational resources and materials.

She has been working with CDU to document, record and promote her language, culture and stories.

Northern Institute Director Professor Ruth Wallace congratulated Gotha, saying she was an inspiration to staff and students.

“As the Northern Institute’s elder on country and as a leading researcher with extensive experience, Gotha contributes her wisdom and leadership to projects that have significant impact for Aboriginal people and the future of the NT,” Professor Wallace said.

“We are very grateful to Gotha who has always been willing to share her knowledge and perspective with researchers, which has deeply influenced our thinking and directions at the Northern Institute.”