This year the Midwest Aboriginal Ranger Program (MARP) met in Geraldton for their regional meeting to reflect as a group, learn from Traditional Owners and dedicate time to learning and sharing traditional ecological knowledge.
The day kicked off with a Welcome to Country from Naaguja Traditional Owner Derek Councillor on the Geraldton Foreshore. NACC NRM NARvis Project Officer, Amanda Bourne then led the group in some team activities about managing multiple roles and navigating obstacles within those roles.
Next up was a tour around Geraldton to see significant Aboriginal sites, with Derek leading the way. Derek shared stories about the uses of natural resources, dream stories and aspirations for conservation and protection of these sites. It was eye-opening for the group to see the amount of knowledge and culture that is often right under our noses.
Managing Director of Western Mulga Pty Ltd, Sandy McEwan said the program aids bringing people together and enabling them to discover their identity.
“Identity is the key for our people, and that is the power of what we are doing,” he said.
Following the tour, the team spent the afternoon with MARP Coordinator, Bianca McNeair, sharing language words from five different language groups and reflecting on the activities that have occurred over the past four years of the project.
Bianca says it has been a considerable journey from the pilot program in 2017 to now heading into what will be the last year of the three-year funding.
“We have seen trainees come through and go out into the workforce as full-time rangers, with others delving into different industries full of confidence and knowing their capabilities,” Bianca said.
Amanda stepped in again to lead the rangers through a reflection exercise targeting opportunities for improvement in the program into the future.
Nanda Traditional Owner and previous training team leader Irene Kelly said she has enjoyed watching young rangers gain confidence and get the work done.
“Our youth are showing that they are up for the job, and we are very proud of them,” said Irene.
This program is supported by NACC NRM through funding from the National Indigenous Australians Agency.