Aboriginal ranger boost under WA Labor

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Tom ZaunmayrPilbara News
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Kingsley Woodley is part of the highly successful Ngurrawaana Ranger program which operates in Millstream-Chichester National Park.
Camera IconKingsley Woodley is part of the highly successful Ngurrawaana Ranger program which operates in Millstream-Chichester National Park. Credit: Tom Zaunmayr

WA Labor has pledged a multi-million-dollar investment into indigenous ranger programs if elected in March.

Announcing the policy in Dampier on Monday, Opposition Leader Mark McGowan said $20 million would be earmarked over five years to boost Aboriginal involvement in managing their traditional lands.

Mr McGowan said similar programs initiated by the Federal Government had seen substantial benefits for Aboriginal people, including increased motivation, creation of new community role models, and health and wellbeing benefits from being on country.

“The social and environmental benefits of indigenous ranger programs have been far and wide reaching, providing an integral step towards improved community wellbeing and reduced poverty in regional and remote communities,” he said.

“These are real jobs that will prevent wildfires and the proliferation of feral animals and weeds in areas that would otherwise be unmanaged.

“We will respond to the growing demand for jobs on country and provide a way to integrate ecological, social and cultural values to generate economic growth in remote indigenous communities.”

The program would be an extension on the success of several successful partnerships in the North West between Aboriginal ranger groups and the Department of Parks and Wildlife.

The Ngurrawaana Ranger program, which operates in and around Millstream-Chichester National Park, has provided on country employment to Yindjibarndi people living in the remote community of Ngurrawaana for several years now.

Rangers work on removing invasive weeds, conducting flora and fauna surveys, and installing infrastructure such as signage and fences.

Late last year, a plan backed by a range of non-government, community and Aboriginal organisations launched the Create Ranger Parks plan, calling on the State Government to commit to converting five million hectares of former pastoral leases into national parks managed by indigenous ranger teams. An assessment of the plan by Social Ventures Australia found that 212 ranger jobs would be created and $3.70 of value would be created by the plan for every dollar spent.

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