Cultural leader recognised for her contribution to education


Yalmay Yunupingu says being able to share her knowledge and experience with younger generations is what fuels her passion for education.

A Yolngu woman from Yirrkala, she has been instrumental in shaping the future direction of early childhood education through her role in establishing the Indigenous Early Childhood Parent Reference Group in 2012, and as its Chair.

After more than six years in the top job, Yalmay stepped down at last week’s group meeting in Darwin.

“It has been a great opportunity for me, and the group we formed has had a big impact as we’ve been able to really target young and very young kids,’’ she said.

“I really like what has happened with the FaFT (Families as First Teachers) program, because we really are our family’s first teacher.

“It makes me feel proud, and gives us the opportunity as Indigenous people to have our voices heard and to talk about what we want our children to learn at an early age.’’

Yalmay said the importance of the Indigenous Early Childhood Parent Reference Group was that it comprised members from across the Northern Territory, and so fostered the sharing of knowledge and ideas.

“It’s so important to be able to mix with people from other communities, listen to their stories, and find out what’s going on in other communities so you can share it with your own,’’ she said.

“For me, that’s been the highlight of working with the reference group.

“Education is in my blood, and it’s important to me to share my experiences and what I have learnt with the younger generations.’’

Yalmay has been an amazing and influential educator through her leadership, cultural knowledge and commitment to early childhood education and care. She has also made a significant and lasting impact by developing culturally appropriate resources for families and their children.

Yalmay will continue her work with the literature production team at Yirrkala Bilingual School from Semester Two, translating books and songs from Yolngu Matha to English.


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