Djambawa Marawili

ANKAAA Chairperson

Djambawa Marawili AMAs well as being the Chairman of ANKAAA’s Board of Directors (2000 – 2014), Djambawa Marawili AM (b.1953) has held numerous other positions, including Chairperson of Buku-Larrnggay Mulka Centre (1994 – 2000), Chairperson of Laynhapuy Homelands Committee (1995 – 1997), Board Member of the Australia Council, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Arts Board (2004 – 2009) and Board Member of the Northern Land Council.

In 2015 Djambawa Marawili continues to chair ANKAAA whilst also serving as deputy Chairman of Buku-Larrnggay Mulka Centre and sitting on the board of Laynhapuy Homelands and the Northern Land Council. As ceremonial leader of the Madarrpa clan of North East Arnhem Land, Djambawa uses his art to communicate his wider socio-political aims, drawing on the strong foundations of Yolngu culture to educate, inspire and seek justice for his people.

Through various advocacy, administrative and educative roles, Djambawa acts as an interface between Yolngu and the wider non-Indigenous population of Australia. He was a participant in the production of the Barunga Statement (1988), which led to Bob Hawke’s promise of a treaty between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people, the Royal Commission into Black Deaths in Custody (established in 1989) and the formation of ATSIC in 1990.

As he has consistently throughout his life, Djambawa uses painting to show the sacred designs that embody his right to speak as a part of the land, whether it be above ground or under the sea. He was instrumental in the initiation of the Saltwater: Yirrkala Bark Paintings of Sea Country exhibition, which toured nationally from 1999 – 2001. He co-ordinated the 2004 Sea Rights claim in the Federal Court which eventuated in the High Court’s determination that Yolngu did indeed own the land between high and low water mark (2008 Blue Mud Bay case).

Djambawa’s work is held in many important public and private collections including Art Gallery and Museum, Glasgow, Scotland; Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth; JW Kluge Collection, Virginia, USA; National Gallery of Australia, Canberra; National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne; President of India Art Collection; National Maritime Museum, Sydney; Northern Territory Supreme Court, Darwin; Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney; Holmes a Court Collection and Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane.

In 2014 Djambawa was appointed to the Prime Minister’s Indigenous Advisory Council. He continues to work with the Northern Land Council while representing ANKAAA.


Yolngu Matha, Dhuwala, Dhuwaya, Dbjambarrpuy, Kriol Gumatj, Anindilyakwa, English


Arnhem Land, Yilpara (Baniyala) Homeland


Governance & Further Qualifications

  • ANKAAA Chairperson (2000 to date)
  • ANKAAA Director (1998 – 1999)
  • Buku Larrnggay Mulka, Yirrkala, Chairperson (1994 – 2000)
  • Buku Larrnggay Mulka, Yirrkala, Board Members (since 2001)
  • Australia Council, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Board (2004 – 2009)
  • Baniyala Homeland Art Studio, Founder
  • Laynhupuy Homelands Committee, Chairperson (1995 – 1997)
  • Nambara Homelands School, Board Member (since 2001)
  • Northern Land Council, Councilor (1995-1997)
  • YBE Enterprises, Board Member
  • Yilpara – Laynhupuy Homelands, CDEP Supervisor
  • Australian Indigenous Leadership Centre, Certificate II in Indigenous Leadership (2009)
  • Australia Council Financial Skills for Arts Organisations workshop (2009)
  • ORIC Governance Training for ANKAAA Directors (2008 – 4 Days) & (2013 – 2 Days)
  • Awarded a Member (AM) in the General Division of the Order of Australia (2010)
  • Australia Council, Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Arts Fellowship (2003)