Mark Yiŋiya Guyula

Djirrikay (Dhuwa ceremonial leader) & NAATI Accredited Interpreter

University Fellow

Yiŋiya is a Yolŋu man of the Djambarrpuyŋu clan and the Liya-Dhalinymirr people. He was born in Barrnyinŋur in Arnhem Land and as a child lived on his country with his family and extended kin learning a Yolŋu way of life. At the age of 10 he began a western education at Shepherdson College on Elcho Island and later went on to attend Dhulpuma College and the Nhulunbuy Area School. He then returned home to his family in Mirrngatja for a time before moving to Nhulunbuy to work with MAF (Mission Aviation Fellowship), being trained in aircraft maintenance and engineering. Eventually he trained as a pilot in Victoria and became the first Yolŋu commercial pilot for the region in 1983.

Yiŋiya is a highly skilled cross-cultural educator working for many years as a Senior Lecturer with Charles Darwin University. He is also a skilled community facilitator which has been demonstrated through a lifetime of work in roles such as Resource Worker with the Northern Region Christian Congress (the Indigenous presbytery of the Uniting Church Northern Synod) and various roles with the Gunbalanya School, the Gapuwiyak Council, the Marthakal Homeland Resource Centre and as a NAATI accredited interpreter.

Yiŋiya has the title of Djirrikaymirr (a senior leader) amongst his people. This makes him an authority within the Yolŋu traditional system of law, called Maḏayin. His clan is also one of a number of groups responsible for oversight of the Yolŋu central governance institution of Ŋärra’ (a foundational institution of law). This is where Yiŋiya’s passion lies. Maḏayin law and the Ŋärra’ institution has maintained peace, justice, and harmony in Arnhem Land for millennia, yet today is being over-ridden and destabilised by dominant outside influences. There are moments of success but every day the gap for Yolŋu in gaining good health, economic independence, and strong, self-governing communities grows. There is no recognition of Yolŋu governance and authority by outside institutions and this is what Yiŋiya is striving for – a partnership and treaty that respects the authority of Aboriginal nations on their country.

Research Interests

  • Indigenous governance
  • Indigenous education
  • Indigenous sovereignty
  • Indigenous health
  • Indigenous youth justice
  • Local decision making
  • Treaty
Mark Yiŋiya Guyula


T: 08 8987 0125


Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory


Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory Member Profile