Ranger Groups in the CLC region
The CLC's community ranger program is one of Central Australia's most popular and successful initiatives in Aboriginal employment and now more than 80 Aboriginal people are employed by the CLC as rangers on their country.
Funding provided through the federal government’s Working on Country program (administered through the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Populations and Communities) and the Real Jobs program (administered through the Indigenous Land Corporation) has enabled the establishment and growth of these ranger groups. Additional funding for operational support for the CLC Ranger program is provided by the Aboriginal Benefit Account and the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations.
The CLC ranger program is made up of nine groups:
- the Wulaign Rangers (based at Lajamanu in the northern Tanami),
- Warlpiri Rangers (based out of Yuendumu, Nyirripi and Willowra communities in the southern Tanami),
- Kaltukatjara Rangers (based at Docker River),
- Tjuwanpa Rangers (based at Ntaria – Hermannsburg),
- Muru-warinyi Ankkul Rangers (based at Tennant Creek),
- Anmatyerr Rangers (based at Ti-Tree),
- Ltyentye Apurte Rangers (based at Santa Teresa),
- Anangu Luritjiku Rangers (based at Papunya),
- Munguru Munguru Gurindji Rangers (based at Daguragu).
The ranger groups in the CLC's region have been so successful there is now growing demand from other communities for the CLC to help facilitate new groups in other areas.
Real jobs, real skills and real outcomes
The focus of the CLC ranger program is on building skills and knowledge amongst participants to enable them to actively manage the cultural and biodiversity assets on Aboriginal lands across the region and to allow them to potentially engage in other employment opportunities that may arise related to environmental services delivery.
Left: Anmatyerr Rangers receiving their awards for Certificate II in Conservation and Land Management in a graduation ceremony at Six Mile Community in October 2010.
The CLC has a dedicated ranger trainer employed to ensure that each ranger receives accredited training in a wide range of core skills (including 4WD and quad bike training, First Aid, chainsaw operation, and safe chemical handling), and in other specialist skills areas (eg welding, multi-media training, fire management and heavy machinery operation). All rangers are also enrolled in Certificate II (or higher) courses in Conservation and Land Management and participate in weekly Workplace English Literacy and Learning (WELL) training to increase their baseline knowledge.
On of the highlights of the CLC Ranger Program in 2010 was the graduation of 12 Tjuwanpa Rangers and six Anmatyerr Rangers from Certificate II in Conservation Land Management. Since then three rangers have also gone on to graduate from the Certificate IV course in Workplace Assessment and Training with support provided through the very successful Community-based Indigenous Training (CBIT) program, and two rangers have enrolled in Certificate IV in Conservation and Land Management.
The annual week-long CLC Ranger Camp is another avenue for intensive skills training, and each year around 120 rangers have participated in training ranging from snake-handling and cybertracker skills development to fire management, SMART weed management training and construction industry Whitecard training.
Through funding provided by the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations a ranger mentor is employed within the CLC Ranger program to assist rangers make the transition to a permanent job, helping with such things as setting up banking and debt management arrangements, work readiness and performance management, and organising support to resolve any personal issues that may affect attendance or performance at work.
Right: CLC Rangers attending the National Indigenous Land and Sea Management Conference in Broken Hill, 2010
The CLC ranger program is increasingly the basis for supporting traditional owners to sustainably manage and protect the cultural and natural values of their country. Ranger work frequently involves the intergenerational transfer of traditional knowledge through the engagement of senior traditional owners in a mentoring role working alongside younger rangers.
The broad range of social, cultural, economic and environmental benefits delivered by indigenous ranger programs are increasingly acknowledged by government, research institutions and within Aboriginal communities themselves, generating growing demand on the CLC to support new programs in other communities across the region. The CLC Ranger program has a high level of community support, participation and ownership and working as rangers builds critical individual confidence and self-esteem.
Rangers’ work is very diverse but focuses on natural and cultural resource management on Aboriginal Lands and on neighbouring Parks or pastoral properties. Projects undertaken range from weed management, cultural site maintenance, fire management, waterhole maintenance, feral animal control, plant and animal surveys, threatened species monitoring, and erosion mitigation works.
Some CLC ranger groups are also increasingly engaging in fee-for-service work on National Parks through the NT Parks and Wildlife’s Joint Management program and with mining companies where rangers undertake short term contract-based work to rehabilitate areas that have been mined. These opportunities allow rangers to develop skills needed to be competitive in any potential commercial work that may arise in the future.
A snapshot of CLC Ranger group activities
The Wulaign Rangers are an integral part of the delivery of management outcomes for the Northern Tanami Indigenous Protected Area (IPA) and work closely with traditional owners and the Northern Tanami IPA coordinator to carry out a range of natural and cultural resource management activities in the course of implementing the IPA Plan of Management. There are currently seven rangers employed in this group.
Wulaign Rangers have a considerable work focus on fire management given the huge area (the Nth Tanami IPA covers 40,000 square kilometres) of savanna transitioning to arid spinifex-dominated country that they help manage. In the 2011 fire season, Wulaign Rangers working alongside traditional owners and the CLC Fire Officer have burnt more than 1700 sq kilometres of country in strategic aerial and ground-based burning – focusing on areas not burnt in the last two seasons in order to try to minimise the risk of large uncontrolled wildfires.
Other work activities planned in 2012 include the development of a feral management strategy for the IPA, targeted bilby surveys in priority management zones, Parkinsonia management in the Hooker Creek catchment and around outstations, and facilitation of school country visits to enable intergeneration transfer Indigenous Ecological Knowledge and to allow younger community members to learn more about Ranger work and potentially be inspired to work toward that as an employment option.
The Warlpiri Rangers' work program is closely aligned with the planning and development process for the proposed Southern Tanami Indigenous Protected Area.
Unlike other CLC ranger groups, the Warlpiri Rangers are drawn from three different communities - a core group is based at Yuendumu, and an additional team of casual rangers is drawn from Nyirripi and Willowra communities. Madeline Dixon, is the senior ranger role and has assumed additional supervision and coordination responsibilities. Madeline received the Chief Minister’s Study Scholarship for Women for Vocational Education and Training studies in June 2011 in recognition of her achievements in study – having recently enrolled in Certificate IV in Conservation and Land Management.
The work program for the Warlpiri Rangers is fairly diverse – with a large focus on fire management activities given the size of the proposed IPA (101,000 square kilometres) and the predominance of spinifex-based land systems in the region. In the first two months of the 2011 fire season Warlpiri Rangers working alongside traditional owners have strategically burnt over 5,100 square kilometres of country following the decisions made by the Warlu (Fire) Committee – a fire management committee made up of Aboriginal representatives from all communities in the Tanami and Barkly regions.
These managed burns are expected to be effective in preventing large catastrophic wildfires from burning through huge tracts of country as has happened in the past following unseasonably high rainfall similar to that which the region has just experienced in 2010-11.
Other components of the work program of the Warlpiri Rangers include development and implementation of a population monitoring and fire management program around significant bilby populations in the Sangster’s Bore area, catchment-scale Rubberbush and Parkinsonia control across the Yuendumu ALT, black-footed rock-wallaby population surveys in range country, involvement in camel impact monitoring at waterholes, and Indigenous Ecological Knowledge work with senior traditional owners.
Like the Wulaign Rangers, Warlpiri Rangers are also involved in fee-for-service work with Newmont at the Granites goldmine. This work entails week-long blocks of fly-in, fly-out work managing weeds, fire and biodiversity around the mine sites.
The Kaltukatjara Rangers
Significant current activities conducted by the Kaltukatjara Rangers include participation in planning the management of the proposed Katiti-Petermann Indigenous Protected Area, on-ground collaborations in feral camel management and monitoring, waterhole monitoring, and fire management work. Kaltukatjara Rangers also maintain the Kaltukatjara campground and tourism infrastructure associated with Tjunti (Lasseter’s Cave) in partnership with the MacDonnell Shire.
The Tjuwanpa Rangers
The Tjuwanpa RangerGroup is the longest established of the CLC Ranger groups, having started operations under CDEP arrangements in 2005 and subsisted on bits of cobbled together funding from various sources until the secure arrangements of the Working on Country and Real Jobs funding came into play in 2008.
Left: Tjuwanpa Rangers installing new signage at Owen Springs Reserve as part of FEP work, October 2010
There are 14 Tjuwanpa Rangers currently employed – several of these having been employed by the CLC as rangers for more than five years now, testament to the success and cohesion of the group and reflective of the job satisfaction expressed by rangers in surveys conducted with them. There are three senior rangers within the group who play important leadership and management support roles as well as helping mentor newer, less experienced rangers in other groups by spending time overseeing project work in other areas.
Under the Flexible Employment Program arrangements of the NT Government’s Joint Management program, Tjuwanpa Rangers have undertaken numerous fee-for-service projects maintaining and upgrading sections of the Larapinta Trail and managing weeds and fire around tourism infrastructure and significant sites within the Finke Gorge or MacDonnell Range National Parks, and Owen Springs Reserve. Two rangers spent six months in secondment positions with Parks and Wildlife during 2010 – and both developed additional skills and increased their capacity to plan logistics for different project work.
In recognition of the calibre of their work the Tjuwanpa Rangers won the 2009 NT Indigenous Landcare Award and were short-listed for the National Landcare Awards.
Work includes aerial and ground-based burning programs to reduce the buffel grass fuel loads on land trusts and within neighbouring national parks in the region, mustering and fencing projects to reduce the impacts of feral horses, facilitating Junior Ranger activities with local school children, ongoing population monitoring and weed control around populations of the endangered Slater’s skink, athel pine control along parts of the Finke catchment, continuing with Certificate III studies in Conservation and Land Management, upgrading the infrastructure, fencing and tracks within their work compound to increase secure storage and expand office space to allow rangers to continue to develop their multi-media skills (four rangers completed Certificate III in Multi-Media in late 2011).
The Muru-warinyi Ankkul Rangers
Like other ranger groups, Maru-warinyi Ankkul Rangers carry out a diverse range of work with a focus on fire management given the high fuel loads following exceptional rainfall across Central Australia during 2010-11. Other work includes bilby surveys along part of the rail corridor, ongoing maintenance of visitor infrastructure at Kunjarra (Devil’s Pebbles), Rubberbush and Parkinsonia management around outstations and waterways, and undertaking maintenance and management work around important cultural sites on the Mission Block.
These rangers have also carried out successful cost recovery work for a number of small mining companies operating in the region, and in 2012 expect to participate in increased amounts of contract-based work with the NT Parks and Wildlife Service
The Anmatyerr Rangers
Anmatyerr Rangers based at TiTree have been intensely involved in an Ecosystem Management Understanding (EMU) planning project for the past two years, and in 2012 will be starting to implement priority projects on Ahakeye ALT identified through this planning process by traditional owners.
Two of the team of seven rangers recently graduated in Certificate IV in Workplace Assessment and Training and have taken on increased amounts of supervisory and peer mentoring responsibilities. Most of the rangers are enrolled in Certificate III in Conservation and Land Management. During 2011 the rangers completed construction of a shed to store equipment and vehicles, and in 2012 will continue waterhole monitoring and maintenance works to protect culturally significant water places, undertake Parkinsonia eradication works along the Hanson River, provide supervisory assistance and technical support to the pilot
The Ltyentye Apurte Rangers
The Ltyentye Apurte Ranger group, based at Santa Teresa became fully functional in 2009 with the introduction of ILC’s Real Jobs funding. Like the Anmatyerr Rangers, this group of 7 rangers has been engaged in the EMU pilot project over the last two years, and 2012 will see the group beginning to implement priority projects identified by traditional owners during the community-based planning process.
One of the key projects rangers will be undertaking in 2012 is focussed in Urlampe Range where rangers will be completing extensive fencing and feral horse control and erosion management works to reduce the overall impact of unmanaged grazing on a series of culturally significant freshwater springs within the range complex.
Ltyentye Apurte Rangers recently completed training in horsemanship, heavy machinery operations and advanced welding in order to undertake their current work program. The rangers will also continue to assist with endangered Slater’s skink population monitoring and associated weed management for remnant populations on Loves Creek Station.
The Anangu Luritjiku Rangers
Anangu Luritjiku Rangers based as Papunya started operation as a pilot ranger group in 2009 until WoC funding was secured in 2011 to support a permanent ranger group. There are currently six rangers employed and the focus of there work in 2012 will be on cultural heritage management and IEK projects, camel impact management around waterholes, weed management and general biodiversity survey and monitoring work across the Haasts Bluff ALT.
These rangers have also been undertaking EMU planning work with traditional owners to help identify priority project work for the group to undertake over the coming years. The group also has a strong working relationship with the local Watiyawanu School and are involved in a number of school country visits and talks about various aspects of ranger work.
The Munguru Munguru Rangers
The second of the pilot ranger groups to transition to a permanent basis in 2011 is the Munguru Munguru Gurindji Rangers based at Daguragu. This is a group of six rangers with a strong governance group comprised of traditional owners who help set the work program for the group. It is likely that the rangers will carry out a mix of fire management, cultural site and biodiversity survey work, weed and feral animal management and some FEP work on Judbarra (Southern Gregory) National Park.