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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 Catherine Ralph

  • Cr Ralph Blyth


  • Mayor Matthew Ryan

  • Cr Jacqueline Phillips

  • Cr James Woods

  • Cr Julius Don Kernan

Cr Otto Dann

Bio to come.

Cr Gabby Gumurdul 

Bio to come.

Donna Nadjamerrek

Bio to come.

Cr James Marrawal

Cr James Marrawal was born and grew up at Warruwi and attended the local community school before he was old enough to move to Darwin for secondary studies at Kormilda College and later Darwin High School.

After leaving school he attended Batchelor Institute to further his education, and gained numerous certificates in the area of health.

James was employed for several years as area health worker before taking on his current role as a Senior Ranger, supervising several rangers in the West Arnhem region.

James is married with three children – two girls and a boy – and four grandchildren.

A traditional owner for Wunyu Country, also known as Sandy Creek, James is a respected leader for the people of Warruwi.

As a young person, he was well-known in the community for his athletic ability on the footy field, with the potential to play representative footy at the highest level.

Cr James Marrawal’s focus and commitment ensures the Council delivers quality services, promotes healthy lifestyles, and creates career paths and long-term employment for Indigenous people.

Cr Henry Guwiyul

Bio to come.

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 Catherine Ralph

Bio to come.

Cr Ralph Blyth

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 more than a decade, Mayor Ryan believes in promoting Indigenous rights.

Matthew 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, Matthew joined the Northern Territory Police, giving many years of service to his community as an Aboriginal Community Police Officer.

Matthew has held the position of Councillor for Maningrida Ward since West Arnhem Regional Council was established, as West Arnhem Shire Council in 2008, and has been a member of Council’s Risk Management and Audit Committee since 2017.

He has also previously served as a Member of the Maningrida Council Incorporated, as a Board member of Bawinanga Aboriginal Corporation and as an Executive Member of the Northern Land Council from 2004 to 2021.

Outside of work, Matthew is a keen hunter and fisherman.

Mayor Matthew Ryan is the Jongi for Benenbenbi (Stone Country), which is his mother’s and grandfather’s country.

Cr Jacqueline Phillips

Bio to come.

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 several BTEC courses 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 seven 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 Unit Officer for Emergency Services in Maningrida (a position he has held for 10 years). 
He is passionate about supporting communities and advocating for essential services to be improved in remote communities. 
Councillor Woods is always available to assist in any way that he can. 

Cr Julius Don Kernan

Bio to come.