Sammy Butcher

Musician, composer, teacher and elder

2024 NT Australian of the Year Nominee

For 40 years, Sammy Butcher has used music to show how dedication and love of community can bring people of all cultures together. 

Sammy, an elder in the Papunya community, was a founding member of the groundbreaking Warumpi Band, which brought the songs and issues of the members’ homeland to global audiences. He also founded Papunya Recording Studio and still works there today. 

A particular focus for Sammy over his life has been preventing suicide and substance abuse among young people. 

The Pitjantjatjara/Luritja/Warlpiri musician has spent decades teaching and encouraging the young people of central Australian communities to play, record, and tour their music as a way to connect with their culture and find confidence in their own voices.  

Sammy has quietly fostered hope, pride and confidence in generations of young and at-risk people. And through this work, his contribution to greater understanding and reconciliation has been immensely significant.