Midwest Aboriginal Ranger Program brings together Traditional Custodians

Surrounded by the beautiful, Australian hillside, an important group of people gathered at the picturesque Gunnado Farm last Thursday for a quality yarn and an Aussie feed.
The Aboriginal Ranger Program mob on Gunnado Farm.

Representatives from Western Mulga, the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions, Central Regional TAFE and NACC came together to talk with the Traditional Custodians of the land about the new Midwest Aboriginal Ranger Program.

Developed by NACC, this program is providing opportunities for Aboriginal people to engage in Natural Resource Management activities that increase job readiness while delivering on-ground conservation and a strong cultural emphasis of “Caring for Country”

This promising program not only gives young people in the Midwest the opportunity to reconnect with country but also provides them with real life experiences that help build confidence in themselves and the work they do.

The program is currently seeking to recruit more female Aboriginal rangers. Representatives at the meeting agreed the more Aboriginal rangers we employ, the greater the impact on the Aboriginal community as a whole.

“This is an incredibly exciting project and I’m looking forward to big things,” said Jamie Conway-Physick, Senior Operations Officer at The Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions.

“The great thing about this program is that it brings two education systems together,” said NACC’s Aboriginal Program Coordinator Bianca McNeair.

“In a way, we are all custodians of the land. We all have responsibility to take care of our country.”

“This program is one huge learning curve for everyone involved because you never truly stop learning about your country,” said Bianca.

Amangu Traditional Custodian Donna Ronan with Nanda Traditional Custodians David Drage and Irene Kelly.

“Even the smallest pieces of information are important and need to be passed on from Elders and Traditional Custodians to the younger generations,” said Sandy McEwan from Western Mulga. “When this happens, a cycle begins where if one Aboriginal person gets a job through the ranger program, their kids are more likely to follow in their footsteps,” he said.

“When you move off the land, you lose that connection and you try and find a way to rebuild that relationship with country,” said Eddie Randell from Western Mulga.

It is vital the benefits of this program are widely acknowledged and supported for the continuation of the program, and the positive impact it is having on individuals, the wider community and our country’s natural resources.

With further Traditional Custodian consultations planned, the Midwest Aboriginal Ranger Program is looking forward to the journey ahead and working together to achieve cultural and conservation outcomes in the region.

Everyone at this meeting agreed on the importance of keeping the local community involved with the program. If you are interested in learning more, please contact NACC’s Aboriginal Program Coordinator Bianca McNeair via Bianca.McNeair@nacc.com.au

This program is supported by the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, through the Indigenous Advancement Strategy.

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