Cultural Advice

Uncle Rod O'Brien, 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. He brings a wealth of experience, knowledge, pride in his Aboriginal heritage and culture, and a willingness to share, teach, and grow to the University.

Uncle Rod can advise on Aboriginal matters and provide culturally appropriate support to all University students and staff.

  • Uncle Rod O'Brien, Cultural Advisor

    Uncle Rod is an inspiration to many. As a Kaurna Elder, he has devoted his life to helping others identify with their language and culture. With his Honours and Bachelor's Degree in Applied Science in Aboriginal Community Development and Management, he has worked tirelessly for over 23 years to support the Adelaide Aboriginal community.

    His passion for reclaiming the Kaurna language is truly inspirational. Rod’s dream is to see every school in the Adelaide Plains region teaching his language and culture to future generations. His commitment to preserving and promoting Kaurna culture and language has earned him recognition as a finalist for the Local Hero Award as part of the 2021 SA Australian of the Year Awards.

    Rod is an active member of the community, volunteering his time as a Chairperson on several committees, including the Kaurna Warra Karrpanthi Aboriginal Corporation, Kaurna Yerta Aboriginal Corporation and Kura Yerlo Inc. His dedication and hard work have made a significant impact in creating a brighter future for the Aboriginal community.

    Rod's passion for his culture and unwavering commitment to community service are truly inspiring. They serve as a shining example of what can be achieved when one follows one's dreams and works tirelessly to make them a reality.

    "My dream is for the Kaurna language to be revived to a level where hundreds of people can 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 it, thus keeping alive Kaurna culture."

    Uncle Rod works Monday - Friday.

  • Student and staff cultural advice

    Student and Staff Cultural Advice

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

    Uncle Rod can help you resolve your concerns in a safe, culturally appropriate space, whether you're facing challenges in your study, work or family life.

  • Welcome to Country

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

    What is a Welcome to Country?

    A Welcome to Country ceremony is an inspiring and respectful protocol that has been part of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures for centuries. It’s the right way to welcome visitors to the Country. It is a way of acknowledging the land, the people, and the cultures and showing respect for the Original Owners of the land.

    The ceremony must occur at the beginning of a formal event or meeting. It is a way of sharing culture, traditions, and stories with visitors and acknowledging the importance of the land and its people.

    All three campuses of the University of Adelaide sit on Kaurna Land. It is appropriate for a Welcome to Country to be performed by Kaurna people with both authority and respect within the community. Our Cultural Advisor, Kaurna Elder Uncle Rod O’Brien, is available for Welcome to Country for The University of Adelaide or external events.

    Welcome to Country

    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 the Kaurna people, 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 this recognition, awareness about Kaurna culture is shared.

    ‘Welcome to Country’ has always been 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.

    Booking a Welcome to Country

    All requests to book a Welcome to Country require a leading time of two weeks or more to ensure the ceremony is tailored appropriately.

    Book a Welcome to Country

  • Acknowledgement of Country

    AOC card

    An Acknowledgment of Country is an opportunity for anyone to show respect for the Original Owners of the land and the continuing connection of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to the Country.

    Any person can offer an Acknowledgment of Country at the beginning of a meeting, speech, or event. Taking the time to Acknowledge Country, reminds us that every day we live, study, work, and raise our kids on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander lands.

    Wirltu Yarlu has created a Kaurna Acknowledgement card for all University of Adelaide staff members. Please contact us if you would like to have one at

    Below is an example of potential wording for a Kaurna Acknowledgement:

    I would like to acknowledge the Kaurna people, the original custodians of the Adelaide Plains and the land on which the University of Adelaide’s campuses at North Terrace, Waite, and Roseworthy are built.

    I pay my respects to Elders past, present, and future and extend this acknowledgment to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander colleagues and First Nations People
  • Cultural engagement for projects

    Our Cultural Advisor is available to provide input into the University of Adelaide projects that require engagement from a Kaurna Elder to ensure cultural appropriateness.

    Please contact us to register your interest in his involvement at