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Our Councillors

Residents of each of West Arnhem Regional Council’s five wards elect representative councillors at general elections. At the first available meeting of Council following a general election, the councillors appoint a Mayor and Deputy Mayor. These elected representatives sit as the West Arnhem Regional Council.

Twelve councillors were elected at the most recent local government general elections held in 2021. 


View the map of the West Arnhem Wards.


Vacancies are filled as necessary through by-elections as listed on the Northern Territory Electoral Commission website.


To read more about each councillor, click on their picture below.



  • Cr Otto Dann

  • Cr Gabby Gumurdul 

  • Cr Donna Nadjamerrek


  • Cr James Marrawal


  • Cr Henry Guwiyul


  • Deputy Mayor Elizabeth Williams

  • Cr Mickitja Onus

  • Cr Ralph Blyth


  • Mayor Matthew Ryan

  • Cr Jacqueline Phillips

  • Cr James Woods

  • Cr Julius Don Kernan

Cr Otto Dann

Cr Otto Dann was re-elected in the 2021 Elections, having also served on Council from 2017-2021. Cr Dann is from Gunbalanya and represents the Gunbalanya Ward. 

Cr Gabby Gumurdul 

Cr Gabby Gumurdul was elected in the 2021 Elections. Cr Gumurdul is from Gunbalanya and represents the Gunbalanya Ward.

Donna Nadjamerrek

Cr Donna Nadjamerrek was elected in the 2021 Elections. Cr Nadjamerrek is from Gunbalanya and represents the Gunbalanya Ward.

Cr James Marrawal

A Traditional Owner for Wunyu Beach and Sandy Creek, Cr James Marrawal is a respected community leader for the people of Warruwi.

He is passionate about building up Warruwi to be a better community through better education, culture and employment opportunities. Cr Marrawal’s focus and commitment is to ensure that the Council delivers quality services, promote healthy lifestyles and career paths and long term employment for Indigenous people in West Arnhem land.

Cr Marrawal was born and grew up at Warruwi and moved to Darwin to attend Berrimah Primary School. He then went onto secondary studies boarding at Kormilda College but attended Darwin High School.

As a young adult, He was well known for his athletic ability and passion for football, with the potential to play representative footy at the highest level. He also represented a national level in high jump and was an avid basketball player.

After leaving school, Cr Marrawal attended the Batchelor Institute and gained numerous certificates in the field of health which he would utilise throughout his career. He first gained employment as a NT Police Officer and served as a medic in the armed forces and was a founder for what is now known as NORFORCE.

Cr Marrawal was also employed for several years as an area health worker, and in 1996, travelled to Canada to a world conference and delivered a book that he wrote on diabetes in Indigenous communities. He then became a Senior Ranger and was responsible for supervising rangers in Warruwi and the great West Arnhem region.

James has a commitment to his people and is not afraid to share their issues with the Council and Local Authority.

Cr Marrawal is married with 4 adult children (2 boys and 2 girls) and is the proud grandfather of 11 grandchildren. He is also a Justice of the Peace.

Cr Henry Guwiyul

Cr Henry Guwiyul was elected in the 2021 Elections. Cr Guwiyul is from Minjilang and represents the Minjilang Ward.

Deputy Mayor Elizabeth Williams

Deputy Mayor Elizabeth Williams has already demonstrated a 17 year commitment to Jabiru and the region, and brings an abundance of knowledge, proficiency and enthusiasm to Council and to the constituents of Kakadu Ward.

She has a very strong connection to the region, having been born in Darwin and has lived periodically in Minjilang on Croker Island. Elizabeth cites her passion for education, health and housing in the communities of West Arnhem.

With five children and 11 grandchildren, she is very family-orientated and enjoys spending her spare time with family and friends when she is not working at Charles Darwin University as the Centre Administrator.

With her experience in supporting students through their studies, Elizabeth believes education, training and supporting youth is key as well as creating a safe, happy place to grow up in.

Like her fellow councillors, she is passionate about the region and wants to achieve the best for the community.

Elizabeth is proud to call Jabiru home and plans to remain in the region for as long as she can with her family.

Councillor Williams is a member of the Kakadu Deadly Runners and also enjoys dancing, travelling and learning new things.

Cr Mickitja Onus

Cr Mickitja Onus was officially sworn in as an Elected Member for the Kakadu Ward on the West Arnhem Regional Council at an Ordinary Council Meeting on Tuesday, 10 October 2023.

Cr Onus was elected by at the 2023 Kakadu Ward by-election which was officially declared on Friday, 22 September 2023.


Cr Ralph Blyth

Cr Ralph Blyth is one of the longest serving councillors at the West Arnhem Regional Council. Born in Darwin while his parents were stationed at Milingimbi where his father was the resident ‘fix it person’ resident engineer where he also serviced Galiwinku and Warruwi, they then moved to Minjilang and spent a few years before the family moved to Darwin for him and his Sisters to attend school.
Ralph didn’t have any interest in High school so ended up leaving and going across to the Darwin Community College for 6 months. 
Commenced and completed diesel mechanic apprenticeship under the tutorage of his father. On completion Ralph was visiting Crocker Island where he was asked to stay on in the community workshop for a few months before going back to Darwin and getting back into the buffalo catching industry. 

Coming out to Jabiru for some wet season work in ’83 he is still here and has worked for Gagudju Association, Ranger Mine, NLC and Public Health Clinic in Jabiru. 
Tony Tapsell who was then the CEO got him interested in Jabiru Town Council where he did a few years and then the Transitional Committee.
When the Shires were formed he was elected first as a Councillor, and then as the President of what was then known as the West Arnhem Shire.
Ralph is the semi carer for his mother Goldie who’s traditional ties take in Wark (Murganella) area West Arnhem Land with his father originally heading up from Melbourne who met her in the late 40’s when he was working in Gunbalanya. 

Ralph has a sister Mary, (oldest sister passed away) nieces, great nieces and nephews who call him Bupoo. Ralph is known around Jabiru as a gentleman’s gentleman who is passionate about advocating for the needs of the community, and is available to help out whenever he can. He is currently the EO of the Warnbi Aboriginal Corporation. There is one thing that Ralph claims to fame and that is he has always lived South of the Berrimah Line.

Mayor Matthew Ryan

Mayor Matthew Ryan was elected as Mayor for West Arnhem Regional Council at the Local Government Election in 2017 and was re-elected in 2021.

A community leader in Maningrida for well over a decade, Mayor Ryan believes in promoting Indigenous rights and remains a fierce advocate for the big issues which affects those at the grass roots level including education, telecommunications, enrolment and health.

Mayor Ryan was born in Royal Darwin Hospital and raised in Maningrida, where he lives with his wife Charlene Bonson and their four children.

After receiving his Primary and Secondary education at Maningrida School, he joined the Northern Territory Police, giving many years of service to his community as an Aboriginal Community Police Officer.

A long term representative and voice for his community, Mayor Ryan has held the position of Councillor for the Maningrida Ward since West Arnhem Regional Council was established, as West Arnhem Shire Council in 2008.

Over the years, he has sat on a number of Council’s committees, including the Special Finance Committee, CEO Employment and Remuneration Advisory Panel and he has been a member of the Risk Management and Audit Committee since 2017.

Outside of the Local Government space, Mayor Ryan has previously served as a Member of the Maningrida Council Incorporated and he is a current board member of Bawinanga Aboriginal Corporation and the Northern Land Council.

Currently, he represents LGANT on the National Referendum Engagement Group.

Outside of work, Mayor Ryan is a keen hunter and fisherman, and he is the Jongi for Benenbenbi (Stone Country), which is his mother’s and grandfather’s country.

Cr Jacqueline Phillips

Cr Jacqueline Phillips was elected in the 2021 Elections. Cr Phillips is from Maningrida and represents the Maningrida Ward. Cr Phillips has also served as a member of the Maningrida Local Authority.

Cr James Woods

Councillor James Woods has served his community for eight years as the longest serving chairperson for the Maningrida Local Authority. He was born in Katherine in the Northern Territory, and was part of the Stolen Generation that the Department of Aboriginal Affairs moved from Katherine to the Retta Dixon Home located along Bagot Road in Darwin.

He did his initial schooling in Darwin before moving to Queensland where he completed his high school education at Warwick Boarding School. While in high school, Councillor Woods worked as a pumpkin picker in farms in Tully Queensland over the school holidays.  After high school, Councillor Woods went on to university in Toowoomba, Queensland where he earned a Diploma in Early Childhood Education. He then went on to complete his BTEC while living in Queensland and the Northern Territory.  

Councillor Woods moved to Maningrida with the local band “Letter Stick Band” who later became his in-laws when he married into the family who are from Blyth River. He has lived in Maningrida for 27 years and is blessed with six children and eight grandchildren.

In Maningrida, he has worked for the Council, Maningrida College, Bawinanga Aboriginal Corporation (BAC) and currently Mala'la Health Service Aboriginal Corporation. In addition to this, Councillor Woods is a member of the Defence Force (a position that he has held for 18 years), and is the Deputy Unit Officer for Emergency Services in Maningrida and is the chairperson for the Maningrida AFL Committee. He is passionate about supporting communities and advocating for essential services to be improved in remote communities.
Councillor Woods is a current Board Member of the Local Government Association of the Northern Territory (LGANT). Councillor Woods is always available to assist in any way that he can.

Cr Julius Don Kernan

Cr Julius Don Kernan was re-elected in the 2021 Elections, having also served on Council from 2017-2021. Cr Kernan is from Maningrida and represents the Maningrida Ward.