Step 2: Speaking with your Elder authorities

Your elders or other senior leaders can guide you in the research, and come to an agreement about what should be done. Go and sit with the relevant people, and talk with them about ths resarch. Ask for guidance, or have a discussion with them, about what it may be important to find out more about, or to make more visible and share with others in relation to your particular research area (e.g. prawn farm, oyster farm, fish trap)

Sitting with your elders, asking their advice and listening to their stories is often the very first thing you do in starting a research project. They will remind you of what has happened in the past, and share stories that help you to know what to do, and what to focus on now. There may be different elders that it is important to talk to for different research projects.

  1. Sit with relevant elders, leaders or senior authorities
  2. Let them know what you are focussing on (e.g. prawn farm, oyster farm, fish trap)
  3. Ask for advice, and come to an agreement, about what would be good to research for Tiwi people and new generations of young people
  4. Take some notes or make a recording of what they say, and what you agree together
  5. Let Michaela at CDU and Fiona at CSIRO know what you have agreed – this way we will all be clear about your resarch project


Here are some videos that may help you as you go and sit with your elders, and ask them for advice on how to go and what to do in your resarch project. They have been created by senior Yolŋu researchers.

Nyomba Gandangu, Dorothy Yungirrnga and Lawurrpa Maypilama talking about Yolngu research process

Rosemary Gunjarranbuy, speaking in Galiwin’ku about getting the true story in research – Part 1

Rosemary Gunjarranbuy, speaking in Galiwin’ku about getting the true story in research – Part 2

Joy Bulkanhawuy, speaking in Galiwin’ku about sitting with elders. Watch and listen how the trees and this place where Joy sits holds Yolŋu foundational knowledge and creates a dilopmatic space.


Move on to Step 3 =>