Cultural Advisor

Niina Marni (Are you good?).

At Wirltu Yarlu, we are fortunate to have the cultural guidance of Kaurna Elder, Uncle Rod O'Brien. To the university he brings a wealth of experience, knowledge and pride in his Aboriginal heritage and culture and a willingness to share, teach and grow.

Uncle Rod can advise on a range of Aboriginal matters and provide culturally appropriate support to all students and staff of the university.

Cultural advisors
  • Cultural Advisors

    Uncle Rod O'Brien

    Rod is a proud Kaurna man and devotes much time to helping other Kaurna people identify with the language and culture. He is an active member of the Adelaide Aboriginal community, volunteering his time as a Chairperson on a number of committees which include the Kaurna Warra Karrpanthi Aboriginal Corporation, Kaurna Yerta Aboriginal Corporation and Kura Yerlo Inc.

    Rod has an Honours and Bachelor's Degree in Applied Science in Aboriginal Community Development and Management from Curtin University. Prior to joining Wirltu Yarlu, he worked in the State Government for over 23 years in the Department for Child Protection.

    Rod is passionate about reclaiming Kaurna language, and hopes to see Kaurna language and culture being taught in every school in the Adelaide Plains region. In recognition of his contribution to the preservation and promotion of Kaurna culture and language, Uncle Rod was named a finalist for the Local Hero Award as part of the 2021 SA Australian of Year Awards. 

    "My dream is for the Kaurna language to be revived to a level where there are hundreds of people able to converse in it with meaningful dialogue on a daily basis. For I believe, if it is spoken, people will gain strength, knowledge and power from its us, thus keeping alive Kaurna culture."

    Uncle Rod works Monday - Friday.


  • Cultural Advice

    At Wirltu Yarlu, we understand that university can be daunting experience for all students, including those of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander heritage. Our Cultural Advisors want to help students feel safe and welcomed at the University of Adelaide by providing tailored cultural advice and emotional support.

    Whether you're facing challenges in your study, work or family life, Uncle Rod is available to help you work through your concerns in a safe, culturally appropriate space.

    Uncle Rod with staff members from Wirltu Yarlu

    Uncle Rod with staff members from Wirltu Yarlu

  • Welcome to Country

    Our Cultural Advisor is available for Welcome to Country for University of Adelaide or external events.

    What is a Welcome to Country?

    A Welcome to Country is a formal process which publicly recognises the Traditional Owners and Custodians of a given area and welcomes visitors to their country. All three campuses of the University of Adelaide sit on Kaurna Land, and thus it is appropriate for a Welcome to be performed by Kaurna people who have both the authority and respect within their community.

    Why is recognition of Country so important?

    There are many reasons why recognition of Country (through either the ‘Welcome to Country’ or the ‘Acknowledgement of Country’) is important for Kaurna people, Aboriginal people from another Country, and non-Aboriginal people.

    For Kaurna people, the recognition of Country is a sign of respect that acknowledges the sacred, cultural and spiritual significance of Country, the lore and the Kaurna people. Through the recognition of Country, awareness about Kaurna culture is shared.

    ‘Welcome to Country’ has always existed as a protocol for Aboriginal people. It is considered that being in someone else’s Country means following formal processes and sharing knowledge between cultures. Aboriginal people visiting from another Country may not feel welcome to speak, work and act if they are not formally welcomed to Country.

    For non-Aboriginal people, it is a starting point to educate current and future generations about Aboriginal people and cultures. It is a position from which a sense of pride in Aboriginal cultures can grow. To ensure recognition is a richer experience, a ‘Welcome to Country’ must extend beyond words and have substance and meaning for all involved.

    Engaging a Cultural Advisor

    All requests require two weeks notice to book a Welcome and we require information regarding the event to ensure the Welcome to Country is tailored appropriately.

    The standard fee for Welcome to Country at University events is $250.00 and information for payment will be supplied on confirmation of booking and there may be additional fees for transport that will be notified at time of booking. Fees for external events will be advised upon request.

    Below is an example of potential wording for an Acknowledgement:

    We acknowledge and pay our respects to the Kaurna people, the traditional custodians whose ancestral lands we gather on. We acknowledge the deep feelings of attachment and relationship of the Kaurna people to country and we respect and value their past, present and ongoing connection to the land and cultural beliefs.Acknowledgement of Country  

    Book a Welcome to Country

  • Cultural Engagement

    Our Cultural Advisor is available to provide input into University of Adelaide projects that require engagement from a Kaurna Elder to ensure cultural appropriateness. Please contact us to register your interest for his involvement.