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Yalmay Yunupiŋu awarded Senior Australian of the Year

Giovanni Torre -

Yalmay Yunupiŋu has been named Senior Australian Of The Year for 2024.

A teacher, linguist and community leader, Ms Yunupingu touches many lives in north-east Arnhem Land.

In November she was announced the NT's Senior Australian of the Year, and on Thursday evening received the national Award.

As a teacher and linguist, she guided teaching at Yirrkala Bilingual School for four decades, retiring in March 2023.

Often called the mother of the school, Yalmay started by translating Dr Seuss books at the community library into her local Yolngu Matha language.

She qualified as a teacher and, with her husband (of Yothu Yindi fame), forged a bilingual teaching approach to make young people strong in their Yolngu language and culture.

A respected Elder, 67-year-old Yalmay is in constant demand for consultations, projects and her traditional healing work. Those who nominated her for the NT and National awards said she "helps everyone, always with a smile on her face".

In 2005, she was awarded a 'Teacher of Excellence' by the Northern Territory Department of Educationand was an Honorary University Fellow at the Charles Darwin University. Since retiring, she has been teaching the next generation about traditional healing.

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