NACC’s Midwest Aboriginal Ranger Program has been up and running for almost six months now and recently, our team took some time to chat to the Program’s participants to find out how this initiative has been changing their lives.
After talking with four Rangers about their experiences with the Program, NACC has learned that there have been some clear positive impacts on not only the participants themselves, but also the environment and the wider community.
Talking to the Rangers about their experiences also helps NACC to evaluate if Program outcomes are being achieved and report this to our funding partners.
WHAT THE RANGERS HAD TO SAY
Gunnado On Country Training Team member, and Naaguja-Yamaji man, Clayton McDonald was one of the four Rangers and said he loved being part of this Program.
“This has been my first chance to do something for my Country,” he said.
“It’s a deadly experience being an Aboriginal Ranger and it’s very important. I feel a strong connection to this land which is something I’m very proud of, and this job helps a lot.”
Fellow Gunnado On Country Training Team member, and Wajarri-Noongar man, Trae Narrier was also interviewed and said the biggest change in his life had been establishing himself in the workforce.
“Doing this type of work doesn’t feel like work really,” he said.
“It just feels like a normal thing to do. My long term vision from doing this course is to work on the land as an Aboriginal Ranger.”
Noongar man Ashley Humphries is employed as a Ranger via Aboriginal business Western Mulga and said that as a result of this Program, there have been many changes in his life.
“Working with plants and animals has got me thinking that I want a native plant nursery in my backyard now which is definitely a change,” he said.
“I was never a morning guy before I got involved, but that has also changed. A lot of little things have changed me for the better and made a lot of people out there proud, including my family.”
Aside from environmental, social and economic outcomes, the program has also had cultural impacts. Senior Ranger Vaughan Lane is involved in the Program through his work with Western Mulga and said that having access to Country has been spiritually uplifting.
“Being able to look after important sites on Country really lifts your spirit up,” he said.
“For me, the most important change has been to be able to get On Country and teach other people about Country, and still learn more. I feel more connected to my Country.”
NACC’s Social Research Officer and MERI Coordinator, Rolan Deutekom, felt privileged to hear first-hand what changes the program had made in Ranger’s lives.
“All of the Rangers talked about high job satisfaction, meaningful training and employment opportunities in conservation, and the desire to work long-term as an Aboriginal Ranger,” he said.
“I was very impressed when I heard about their passion and motivation to care for Country and how the project had impacted on them and their families”, he said.
FUTURE OF THE PROGRAM
The four Rangers expressed thanks to all the Program partners and supporters for making these changes possible.
“It’s good that Elders are involved in this project and all the teachers are really helpful and supportive,” said Trae.
“We’ve got good people helping us do this.”
They also expressed a strong desire to continue this project, well into the future.
“There is a lot of people that love the land and it would be good if this Ranger work can be continued long term,” Ashley said.
The Midwest Aboriginal Program is funded by the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, through the Indigenous Advancement Strategy. The project is delivered by NACC and its partners Western Mulga, the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions, Central Regional TAFE, as well as many more supporters.