growing up yolnu

By Ellie Turner

A modern ethnographic study has been woven into a public record of the complex cultural practices vital to the way Yolŋu families raise children in remote north-east Arnhem Land.

A new website, “Ŋuthanmaram djamarrkuḻiny’ märrma’kurr romgurr: Growing up children in two worlds”, has been developed from the video-based research project, which shares Yolŋu cultural strengths and priorites in early childhood with the world.

Northern Institute Associate Professor Läwurrpa Maypilama, a senior Yolŋu researcher who co-led the project, said the website would be a source of knowledge for future generations of Yolŋu and an educational resource for non-Aboriginal people.

“Showing the world can help others to understand, so they can recognise, value and respect Yolŋu knowledge and our ways of growing up children,” she said.

“This will help to improve their actions, assessments and policies.”

The collaborative six-year project, funded by the Lowitja Institute and CDU, began in response to Yolŋu women’s concerns about a lack of recognition of their cultural strengths and priorities in some early childhood programs rolled out in remote communities post-NT Intervention.  

Co-leader Associate Professor Anne Lowell said intense family interaction supporting the development of children’s skills and knowledge, captured in the video research, was often invisible to people unfamiliar with Yolŋu culture.

“We need to ensure balanda (non-Aboriginal) early childhood assessments and education programs do not confuse ‘difference’ with ‘deficit’ but recognise and build on children’s and families’ strengths,” she said.

The project team will launch the website in the Savannah Room at the Northern Institute (building Yellow 1), Casuarina campus, on Friday, 21 June 2019.

For event details contact Katrina Britnell, E: or T: 8946 7468.

For more information on the website, visit W: