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Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment & Heritage
Member for Flinders
Greg Hunt MP
26 October 2005
Greg Hunt MP, Parliamentary Secretary with ministerial responsibility for Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, today congratulated 36 winners of the inaugural Awards for Excellence.
The awards recognise a wide range of achievements from fire, weed and threatened species management to training rangers in Tjukurpa (traditional Anangu law) through to innovative use of technology in protecting culture and country.
"All these winners have given generously of their skills and knowledge to improve park operations and to protect and enhance its World Heritage values," Mr Hunt said.
"The awards recognise the essence of joint management - skill sharing, cooperative efforts and respect for traditional and scientific knowledge.
"In this 20th anniversary year, we recognise those who have worked tirelessly since the park’s inception to make joint management work and to make the park a unique visitor experience.
"We’re also saluting the achievements of eight young people from the Mutitjulu community who have inspired us all with their work over the past eight months. They have cleared hectares of land of buffel grass, planted an orchard and built a garden at the primary school - and at the same time studied and acquired chemical and land management certificates.
"They are young Anangu leaders, already embarked on a career path as the next generation of park rangers and leaders in their community," Mr Hunt said.
Kristy McSweeney 0415 740 722
Barbara Tjikatu is a senior Anangu and a member of the Board of Management. Barbara is renowned for her absolute dedication to all aspects of park management, whether it is training park rangers in Anangu law, providing advice on environment impact assessments, taking part in fauna surveys, or weed, fire or film and photography management. She was instrumental in the development of the Cultural Centre and has generously shared her knowledge with visitors in tours of the Tjukurpa tunnel and bush tucker demonstrations. Barbara’s outstanding contributions include mentoring young Anangu, community development work with the Mutitjulu Council and schools, and management of women’s heritage. One of the greatest of her many achievements is her success in ensuring that the junior ranger program became an integral part of the park’s operations.
Norman cut the first tourist road from Curtin Springs to Uluru, and for decades has passed on traditional knowledge to generations of young rangers. He’s known as a strong leader and hard worker, whether sinking bores, repairing park infrastructure, working in community development or participating in search and rescue. Most recently he helped to build the Mala paddock and helped bring the Mala back from Watarrka. Norman has led fire management training, teaching western trained rangers traditional fire management practices to avoid the fierce wildfires that once devastated Uluru’s landscape. His tracking work has imparted invaluable information to help the park add to their scientific knowledge of animal distribution and behaviour. Norman makes sure Tjukurpa is passed on by teaching both junior and other rangers.
Peter Fannin is known locally as Tjilpi – a respectful Anangu word for a senior knowledgeable man. He is honoured for more than 20 years of predominately unpaid work documenting over 150 plant species and collecting specimens for the park’s herbarium. He has made an invaluable contribution to national knowledge of arid zone plants. Tjilpi established the popular guided plant walks and has trained young rangers – especially Anangu - to deliver these tours.
Nyingku began working in Uluru Kata Tjuta National Park 15 years ago a 16 year old trainee. She has built up her western skill base at the same time as learning Tjukurpa from her elders. Nyinku has worked in other parks (such as Booderee, another joint managed national park) to extend her knowledge and she is the first Anangu woman to pass her exams and become a ranger under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.
Nyinku shares her knowledge with park staff and mentors other young women to come and work in the park. A talented artist and a young mother, she still finds time to sit on community organisations. An Indigenous Women’s Leadership award winner, Nyinku is a role model for young people in the Mutitjulu community – and the future face of park management.
These awards recognise outstanding contributions by young Anangu, who are showing the same commitment as their grandmothers and grandfathers. They have taken the first steps in a career path of caring for country.
Eight young 15 – 24 year olds from the Mutitjulu Community receive awards for excellence.
Over the past eight months they have been part of a group of 24 young people, working on Green Corps, an Australian Government program funded under Job Futures and Greening Australia.
In that time they have removed up to 10 hectares of the invasive weed buffel grass in the park and the Community. They’ve worked on rock hole maintenance, built two shade shelters – wiltjas – at the football oval in the Mutitjulu Community, painted a Community arts project and the Mala gate, and finally established a Community orchard and a garden in the primary school.
At the same time as the worked with park staff, conservation volunteers and a private environment company, they managed to study and acquire both chemical and land management certificates. One has just been employed to become the Park’s maintenance officer.
Jimmy is known as Jimmy Wara – the Anangu word for tall, or big man. He has put in extraordinary effort over more than four years to re-introduce Mala , the extinct rufous hare wallaby. Working with three community organisations, he has supported the employment of more than 40 Anangu to build the Mala paddock. This project has resulted in the re-invigoration of Tjukurpa (Anangu law) by the reintroduction of a culturally important species.
Imantra has 20 years of park service in tracking work and flora and fauna surveys. She has played a leading role in community development by training new rangers and supporting inma (ceremony)