Friday, September 17, 2021

On land and on sea: new Indigenous rangers safeguard country

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The Honourable Meaghan Scanlon, Qld Minister for the Environment and the Great Barrier Reef and Minister for Science and Youth Affairs, Media Release, 11 September 2021

For more than 50,000 years, Australia’s First Nations communities have been the custodians of country, developing a rich knowledge and cultural connection to land and sea.

Today, the Palaszczuk Labor Government reaffirms the ongoing recognition of Indigenous knowledge and connection, announcing 54 new First Nations rangers for 13 communities across Queensland.

Joining Kombumerri traditional owners at the Guanaba Indigenous Protected Area on the Gold Coast, Environment Minister Meaghan Scanlon said the government would invest $24 million to help First Nations organisations foster the next generation of community leaders.

“This is about recognising the oldest living culture on earth, the knowledge and connection our First Nations communities have to land and sea, and to giving young Indigenous people the opportunity to work in their country,” Minister Scanlon said.

“I’ve had the privilege of seeing just how important a role Indigenous rangers play in their community and in looking after our national parks and protected areas.

“To see the knowledge being shared between Indigenous rangers and our Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service is incredible, and why we’ve committed and delivered funding for more positions.

Funding will provide rangers at:

GroupNo. of Rangers
Carpentaria Land Council Aboriginal Corporation on behalf of Waanyi PBC4
Dulabed & Malanbarra Yidinji Aboriginal Corporation4
Girringun Aboriginal Corporation on behalf of Manbarra Elders Council5
Gunggandji Mandingalbay Yidinji Peoples PBC Aboriginal Corporation4
Indjalandji-Dhidhanu Aboriginal Corporation3
Mamu Aboriginal Corporation4
Mandubarra Aboriginal Land & Sea Incorporated4
Mithaka Aboriginal Corporation4
Ngarang-Wal Gold Coast Aboriginal Corporation4
Western Yalanji Aboriginal Corporation4
Woorabinda Aboriginal Shire Council5
Wuthathi Aboriginal Corporation5
Yuwi Aboriginal Corporation4

Minister Scanlon said the announcement added to the government’s work on Queensland’s Path to Treaty, the transfer of protected areas on Mulgumpin (Moreton Island) and support for rangers through a record $1.4 billion environment investment.

“Jobs have never been more important as we deal with the pandemic and Queensland’s COVID-19 economic recovery plan, and so to be able to deliver something like this just has so many benefits.”

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships Minister Craig Crawford this week spent three days in the remote indigenous community of Doomadgee, in the Gulf of Carpentaria, 2180 km north-west of Brisbane.

Under the expanded indigenous ranger program, the local Waanyi people, who are traditional owners of the spectacular Boodjamulla (Lawn Hill Gorge) National Park, will for the first time get four ranger positions to be based at Gregory Downs.

“I know how successful the ranger programs are from visiting Indigenous communities across Queensland,’’ Minister Crawford said.

“These rangers are the next generation of leaders, they have a real sense of pride in putting on the uniform.

“They get to work On Country, protect natural jewels like Boodjamulla, the kids look up to them, it really works.”

Waanyi chairman Alec Doomadgee said it was a dream of his late Dad and tribal lawman Don George.

“To know his dream of ranger program is about to become a reality is a powerful emotion,’’ he said.

“I am over the moon. Waanyi mob are all about healing and caring for country.

“It gives us employment, and a chance to share our spiritual and cultural practices.

“It’s something we are passionate about.’’

Wuthathi Aboriginal Corporation will receive funding to establish a ranger team on Wuthathi country, which includes Shelburne Bay, a unique landscape of high ecological and cultural importance.

Chairperson Keron Murray said securing a ranger program for country was a monumental achievement and the culmination of more than 30 years of hard work.

“From the removal of our people in the past, to the fight to stop mining and have our lands returned, this has been a priority of the highest order for the Corporation and for the Wuthathi people,” Chairperson Murray said.

“The funding for a ranger team will support our people in caring for our remote and special country as our Elders before us, so we can continue to meet our cultural obligations and manage our lands.”

The Wuthathi ranger team will undertake cultural mapping and recording of story places, middens and other sites and contribute to Raine Island recovery projects, supporting the world’s largest remaining green turtle nesting population. 

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