Log In

Canberra Close Up: Elizabeth Marrkilyi Ellis

A Ngaanyatjarra woman from the Tjukurla community in Western Australia, Elizabeth Marrkilyi Ellis is an educator, interpreter and linguist with a passion for documenting Indigenous languages.

Elizabeth Marrkilyi Ellis was born and raised in the Tjukurla community in Western Australia, four hours from Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.
Driven by a passion for education and language, Ms Ellis joined Alex Sloan on Canberra Close Up to share her stories from remote Australia and her efforts to document Indigenous languages.
“I speak quite a few dialects of Western Desert languages,” she told Alex Sloan.
“And I’ve been trying to learn French for a long time, because I’ve been over there and taught my own language.”
Ms Ellis went to schools in Leonora, Karalundi and Wiluna, then later attended high school at Yirara College in Alice Springs.
In 2008, she worked in the WA Education Department as a curriculum coordinator.
Ms Ellis has also helped connect kids in classrooms at Irrunytju, WA; earlier this year, she took a class out into the community, meeting elders and teaching them about country.
She says breaking down language barriers is crucial to fostering education in Indigenous communities.
“A lot of our families don’t speak English.
“Because of the language barrier and the cultural barrier, people didn’t know that they had the right to know what was going on in the classroom, and to know what children are achieving.”
These days, Ms Ellis is an Australian Research Council Discovery Indigenous Fellow at the Australian National University, where she is working on a project documenting Western Desert speech styles and changing modes of communication across the generations.
“Living here in Canberra – I just love it. I love coming to work.”

You can hear the Canberra Close Up podcast in full here.

This article originally appears at:
Article taken from the following publication:
ABC Canberra
Article submitted by:
Farz Edraki

Leave a Reply



Partly Cloudy

Humidity 75%

Wind 8.05 km/h

  • 04 Jan 201933°C19°C
  • 05 Jan 201937°C21°C