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Dr Rob Amery

Telephone +61 8 8313 3924
Position Head of Linguistics
Fax +61 8 8313 4341
Building Napier Building
Floor/Room 9 10
Campus North Terrace
Org Unit Linguistics

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Biography/ Background

Marni niina pudni (Welcome)

This is Rob Amery's homepage at the University of Adelaide. My main research focus is Australian Indigenous languages, their maintenance and revival. I began working in Aboriginal communities in 1980 in health, first as a nurse and then as an Aboriginal Health Worker Educator. I became involved in education issues when I went to Yirrkala, North East Arnhemland in 1985 where I researched Dhuwaya, a new koine variety of Yolngu Matha spoken by the younger generation, and implications for the Gumatj-English bilingual education program in operation within the school.

In 1993 - 1994 I served as Project Officer for the innovative Australian Indigenous Languages Framework (AILF) project which introduced Indigenous languages into senior secondary studies in accredited programs for the first time in Australia's history. Go to 

For more than two decades now I have been working with the Indigenous languages of Adelaide and surrounds, especially Kaurna, the language of the Adelaide Plains. The language is being re-learnt on the basis of 19th century materials and is beginning to be used again for a range of purposes. I have worked closely with the Kaurna community, the Department of Education and Children's Services (DECS), Kaurna Plains School and other institutions to implement Kaurna language programs. I completed my PhD on the reclamation of Kaurna in June 1998 (see publications). In 2002 we established Kaurna Warra Pintyandi (KWP) to monitor and further the development of the Kaurna language. Go to

In 2012 triennial funding was obtained from the Commonwealth Indigenous Language Support (ILS) scheme which has enabled us to establish a KWP Team. In 2015 we were granted further funding for another two years until June 2017. The KWP Team currently comprises:

  • Steve Gadlabarti Goldsmith - Kaurna Media Production Officer (0.4 time)
  • Paul Finlay - Kaurna Media Mentor (0.4 time)
  • Taylor Power-Smith - Administrative Assistant and Kaurna Media (0.2 time)
  • Katrina Karlapina Power - Kaurna Media (0.2 time)
  • Rob Amery - Manager and Convener of KWP
    Contact details: Tel: (08) 83133924; e-mail:

Teaching Interests

I teach the following courses:

LING 1101 Foundations of Linguistic

LING 2014 Australian Indigenous Languages

LING 2039 Reclaiming Languages: A Kaurna Case Study 

LING 2040 Phonology
LING 2046 Morphology & Syntax

LING 2038 Cross-Cultural Communication

LING 5112 Field Linguistic


In the past I have taught:

LING 1102 Language & the Ethnography of Communication

LING 2030/3030 Language & Communication Planning

Aboriginal Health

Research Interests

  • Kaurna Language and Linguistics (Kaurna is the original language of Adelaide and the Adelaide Plains).
  • Language Reclamation and the Formulaic Method.
  • Indigenous Languages in Schools.
  • Language Planning and Language Revival.
  • Language Modernisation and Development.
  • Linguistic Vitality.
  • Endangered Languages.
  • Linguistics and Health (communicating Western health concepts in Indigenous languages).



Community Engagement

Rob Amery has been working with the Kaurna language and the Kaurna community continuously since 1989. Together with Dr Lewis Yerloburka O'Brien, Dr Alitya Wallara Rigney and others he established Kaurna Warra Pintyanthi (KWP) in 2002.

In 2007, Dr Rob Amery was awarded a UNESCO Certificate of Achievement for his work in Linguistics. Specifically, his award was in recognition of "the documentation both of the Kaurna language and aspects of the traditions of the Kaurna Plains people and the development of language revival resources".


Expertise for Media Contact

CategoriesAboriginal & Indigenous Issues, Language & Literacy
ExpertiseKaurna language; Language revival; Language reclamation; Indigenous languages; Endangered languages; Kaurna placenames; Indigenous languages in education
NotesConsultant linguist and convener of Kaurna Warra Pintyandi which meets regualrly each month at the University of Adelaide to discuss requests for names and translations; Developed the national senior secondary Australian Indigenous Languages Framework; Moderator for Australian Languages, SACE Board. UNESCO Club Achievement Award 2007. Lansdowne Fellow, Victoria University, BC, Canada, 2004.

Entry last updated: Friday, 19 Feb 2016

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