Yalmay Yunupiŋu

Teacher, linguist and community leader

2024 Senior Australian of the Year

Gentle, generous and funny – Yalmay Yunupiŋu touches many lives in north-east Arnhem Land. 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 Yolŋu 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 Yolŋu language and culture.  

A respected elder, Yalmay is in constant demand for consultations, projects and her traditional healing work. 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 Education and was an Honorary University Fellow at the Charles Darwin University. Since retiring, she has been teaching the next generation about traditional healing.