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8 August 2009
At the Garma Festival today, a group of proud Indigenous Working on Country rangers presented Environment Minister Peter Garrett with a progress report on their environmental achievements over the past 18 months.
The rangers represent the diversity of Working on Country communities around Australia, from Heywood in Victoria and Derby in Western Australia to the Yolgnu traditional owners of Garma Festival country.
"When Working on Country was first established we contracted around 100 Indigenous rangers and today, less than two short years later, there are almost 500 rangers," Mr Garrett said, "They are delivering fantastic environmental services for our nation.
"I have been really impressed by the rangers and their environmental work including their work with fire management, weed control, cultural heritage protection and the conservation of a range of threatened species.
"Often the rangers are required to work under harsh weather conditions and inhospitable landscapes and despite this, they have told me how important land and sea management is for them, doing work that they love on their own country."
The Australian Government has committed a further $90 million over five years for an additional 300 rangers to be employed.
"We have extended Working on Country into regional Australia and we are providing funding for ranger traineeships and casual positions.
"Working on Country is one of the fundamental building blocks in place so Indigenous people can have access to the same choices and opportunities as other Australians.
"It is a vital building block in closing the gap of Indigenous disadvantage," said Mr Garrett. Working on Country is an element of the Australian Government’s Caring for our Country business plan.
For more information visit www.environment.gov.au/indigenous/workingoncountry