Commonwealth of Australia, 2009
I hope this first report on Working on Country conveys the incredible breadth of the environmental work the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander rangers are doing across the country.
We deliberately started small, in our venture to contract Indigenous people in remote parts of Australia to manage the environment for the Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts. We wanted to ensure the model was successful.
It has been particularly rewarding for myself and my project managers in Darwin, Alice Springs, Cairns and in Canberra, to watch Working on Country grow from the original 100 rangers in 2007 to almost 500 rangers today.
In designing Working on Country we were guided by the work of the Aboriginal Land Councils and existing ranger groups. We strove for a model which respects and draws on traditional ways of looking after country and provides long term jobs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to help manage our vast and beautiful country.
It was also vital, that we established and maintained good working partnerships with Indigenous communities and organisations.
We are constantly inspired by the skills and commitment of the rangers. We observe the deep pride of the Elders and the excitement of the children who see fresh opportunities for a future.
We are seeing positive benefits with the rangers as they manage and protect the environment and contribute to their local economies, keep culture strong and build resilient communities.
When I visit the ranger groups, I am often told by both Elders and the rangers of how good it is to have a fulfilling job looking after their country.
Today, we are pleased we have been able to extend Working on Country into regional Australia and provide ranger traineeships and casual ranger jobs.
We trust this report captures the hard work and good environmental results achieved since Working on Country was established in 2007.
On behalf of the Working on Country Indigenous rangers, I am pleased to present this report to the Hon. Peter Garrett, the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts.
Indigenous Policy Branch
Australian Government Lands and Coast Division
Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts
6 August 2009