Dr Kathy (Gotha) Guthadjaka AM

Senior Research Fellow & Elder on Country

Dr Kathy (Gotha) Guthadjaka AM is a senior elder from Gäwa, a small family community on Elcho Island in East Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory. Kathy has worked as an educator for over 50 years and has always had a strong interest in research. She is currently employed as a part-time Senior Research Fellow at the Northern Institute at Charles Darwin University. Kathy is interested in collaborative qualitative research projects where she can share her Aboriginal knowledge and expertise. She is keen to cover multidisciplinary areas in her partnership projects.

Research Interests

Kathy's research focus is on Warramiri knowledge, language, culture and country, Aboriginal education, two way education, spirituality, identity, religion, women and gender policy. 


In October 2018 Dr Guthadjaka was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by Charles Darwin University (view pics) and a few weeks later officially appointed a Member of the Order of Australia by Her Honour the Honourable Vicki O’Halloran AM, Administrator of the Northern Territory on her country in Gäwa, Elcho Island (Arnhem Land). She was appointed an AM for significant service to the Indigenous community through contributions to education and cultural preservation in East Arnhem Land. View pics

Kathy is the 2018 NT 'Senior Australian of the Year'. This award recognised her work creating a bilingual educational model that delivered high attendance and graduation rates on Elcho Island. Kathy was also acknowledged for representing Australia at the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in Geneva and for her research work examining language, traditional knowledge, culture and country. See Insight gleaned from the Bower Bird.

In 2015 Kathy was awarded the 'Elder on Country' NAIDOC 2015 Award (Darwin).

In 2014 Kathy was presented the title of Northern Institute's 'Elder on Country' by Dr Tom Calma, Chancellor of the University of Canberra.


Want to contact Kathy?

Please email thenortherninstitute@cdu.edu.au with your enquiry and contact details. If it is a request for Kathy to attend an event or present please provide information including where the event is being held, when, the nature of the event and travel arrangements (if applicable). Note: It may take up to 2 weeks for a reply to be received.

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Research Projects

Current Projects

Recent Projects

Consultancy Work

Publications & Resources


Warramiri School Books for Bilingual Education. Literature Production Centre – Shepherdson College, Galiwin'ku.

Book Chapters

Baker G., Gargulkpuy J., & Guthadjaka, K. (2014). Guthadjaka and Gargulkpuy: Indigenous women leaders in Yolngu, Australia-wide and international contexts. In: J. Damousi, K. Rubenstein, and M. Tomsic (Eds.), Diversity in Leadership: Australian Women, Past and Present (pp. 39–52.). Canberra, Australia: Australian National University Press.

Journal Articles

Van Gelderen, B., & Guthadjaka, K. (2017). The Warramiri Website: applying an alternative Yolŋu epistemology to digital development. Research and Practice in Technology Enhanced Learning, 12(14).  DOI 10.1186/s41039-017-0052-x

Funk, J., Guthadjaka, K., & Kong, G. (2015). Posting Traditional Ecological Knowledge on Open Access Biodiversity Platforms: Implications for Learning DesignThe Australian Journal of Indigenous Education, 44(2): 150-162.

Gothadjaka, K. (2010). Teaching when nothing is lying around. Learning Communities: International Journal of Learning in Social Contexts, 2, 25-31.

Conference Proceedings & Papers

Ford, P. L., St Clair, M., Murtagh, D. P., Kelly, J., Wallace, R., & Guthadjaka, G. K (2019)  A collaborative approach in remote Aboriginal communities – why has telehealth worked in the Laynhapuy Homelands?  Proceedings 15th National Rural Health Conference, Hobart, 24-27th March.

Guthadjaka, K. (2013, June). Bilingual Education: Both Ways Learning; A Practical Approach. Paper presented at Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care (SNAICC) National Conference, Cairns.

Guthadjaka, K. (2012, December). Meta narrative, technology and how we tell our story. NTCSA Over the Top Conference, Darwin.

Guthadjaka, K. (2012, November). Bilingual Education: Bothways Learning: a practical approach. Paper presented at Department of Education Bilingual Workshop, Galiwin’ku.

Guthadjaka, K. (2012, July). Meta narrative, technology and how we tell our story. Paper presented at Norther Territory Christian Schools Association Over the Top Conference, Darwin.

Guthadjaka, K. (2011, December). Teaching from Country. Paper presented at the Education of Indigenous Languages in Australia and Minority Language Teaching in Japan, University of Foreign Studies, Tokyo.

Guthadjaka, K. (2011, September). Bilingual Education for Yolngu children. Paper presented at the Children's Rights NGO Conference, Geneva.

Guthadjaka, K. (2010, October). Literate Australia: Health & Wellbeing Visions - Two Way Learning. Paper presented at the Building Literate Nations Inaugural National Forum, Sydney.

Research Posters

Gurruwilyun Wurrki Ga Borum Flowers and Fruits Poster: The flowers and fruits poster records key species on Gotha’s ancestral land at Gäwa.  Young people learn to identify the changing seasons, particularly the changing breezes, from the various species as they bloom and fruit throughout the year. Every species has its place and its time. 

Gurruwilyun Yolnu Seasons - Gawa Poster: In late 2012, at a workshop held at Gawa, school children and community members worked together to explore some of Gotha's ideas for how the community can both develop and keep Yolnu culture alive and strong. This Seasonal Calendar was one of the products of the workshop. It is now being used as a basis of curriculum in the Gawa school and has been made available to the general public.

Higher Degree by Research (HDR) Supervision

Associate Supervision (Current)

Media Coverage

Radio, TV, News Paper & Web Interviews

Dr Kathy (Gotha) Guthadjaka


T: +61 8 8946 7468
E: thenortherninstitute@cdu.edu.au

Gawa, Elcho Island