CDU educator named NT’s Australian of the Year 

Professor Michael Christie is the 2011 Northern Territory Australian of the Year.

Charles Darwin University Indigenous language expert, Professor Michael Christie has been named the Northern Territory’s Australian of the Year 2011.

Professor Christie was honoured at a ceremony in Darwin last night for his work on Indigenous languages in east Arnhem Land.

A fluent speaker of Yolngu languages, Professor Christie has worked for more than 30 years collaboratively with Indigenous elders and communities to preserve Indigenous culture and heritage and knowledge for all Australians.

Professor Christie has worked as a teacher linguist at Milingimbi and Yirrkala in the 1970s and ‘80s and with Yolngu elders to establish the Yolngu studies program at CDU, which won the Prime Minister’s prize for Australia’s best university teaching program in 2005.

His research and teaching brings Indigenous and non Indigenous knowledge systems together to work on “both ways” school curriculum, medical interpreting and Aboriginal housing.

Tam Johnston, Program Director for the National Australia Day Council, said the Northern Territory award recipients, in particular Professor Christie, were outstanding Australians whose impact was making a real difference, particularly for Indigenous Australians.

“The award recipients are leading the way in addressing health and youth issues, social challenges, equity and human rights in the Northern Territory and beyond,” Ms Johnston said.

In 2008, Professor Christie was also awarded a National Fellowship by the Australian Learning and Teaching Council, where he developed a program for enabling Yolngu elders in remote homeland communities to teach.

Professor Christie and the other Northern Territory recipients will now join recipients from all other States and Territories as finalists for the national awards to be announced on 25 January 2011 in Canberra.