CLC Rangers

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.

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 90 Aboriginal people are employed by the CLC as rangers on their country.

Funding provided by the federal government’s Working on Country program (Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet) and Real Jobs program (Indigenous Land Corporation) has enabled the establishment and growth of 11 ranger groups across Central Australia. Additional funding for operational capital support for the CLC Ranger program is provided by the Aboriginal Benefit Account (ABA).  

The CLC ranger program is made up of the following 11 groups:

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.

Ranger Program Development Strategy

Due to the demand from traditional owners and the need to manage country the CLC engaged a consultant, Creating Communities Pty Ltd, in 2014 to put together a development strategy to review the existing program and plan for its future growth and resilience. The Strategy is an independent report and raises a number of key points and recommendations for the CLC to consider in its future planning. These include that:

  1. The Ranger Program has developed to a point where it now has a proven capacity to devise and implement a structured work program and able to attract, retain, develop skills and deploy a stable workforce to undertake natural and cultural resource management activities;
  2. Partnerships and revenue diversification are required in order to be able to expand and sustain the program;
  3. Planning processes must be better integrated and linked to a robust monitoring and evaluation framework;
  4. Mechanisms for motivating and retaining Rangers are required, including contemporary and relevant training and mentoring support;
  5. That the CLC is currently the most appropriate organisation to manage the Ranger Program in central Australia;

The CLC has taken steps to implement some of the recommendations in the Strategy and will continue to put effort into improving the delivery of the program.  

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 related to environmental services delivery.

Above: Rangers receiving their awards for Certificates in Conservation and Land Management in a graduation ceremony at the Watarrka Ranger Camp in March 2015.

Ranger Farron Gorey, Ltyentye Apurte Ranger, participating in the snake handling training at the Watarrka Ranger Camp in 2015.

The CLC has a dedicated Ranger Training Officer 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 (e.g. 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 literacy and numeracy training, when the funding is available, to increase their baseline knowledge.

One of the highlights of the CLC Ranger Program in 2015 was the graduation of twelve rangers from six of the groups in Certificate II and six rangers from three groups graduate in Certificate III in Conservation Land Management.

Left: Ranger Farron Gorey, Ltyentye Apurte Ranger, participating in the snake handling training at the Watarrka Ranger Camp in 2015.

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 Cyber Tracker skills development to fire management, SMART weed management training and construction industry Whitecard training.

There are two Ranger mentors 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.

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 Indigenous Ecological 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 include weed management, cultural site maintenance, Indigenous Ecological Knowledge work, fire management, waterhole maintenance, feral animal control, plant and animal surveys, threatened species monitoring, and erosion mitigation works.

Some CLC ranger groups are 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

North Tanami Rangers

The North Tanami 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.

North Tanami Rangers have a considerable work focus on fire management given the huge area (the Nth Tanami IPA covers 40,000 km2) of savanna transitioning to arid spinifex-dominated country that they help manage.

Other work activities include feral animal management 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 intergenerational transfer of 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.

Warlpiri Rangers

The Warlpiri Rangers' work program is closely aligned with the management plan (insert link), completed in 2012, and annual IPA management committee planning processes for the Southern Tanami Indigenous Protected Area.

Unlike most other CLC ranger groups, the Warlpiri Rangers are drawn from three different communities - a core group is based at Yuendumu, with additional teams of casual rangers drawn from Nyirripi and Willowra communities.

In 2012, the Southern Tanami Indigenous Protected Area (STIPA) was declared. It is the largest Indigenous Protected Area and conservation zone on mainland Australia (101,580 km2). With the IPA coordinator, the Regional Land Management Officer, and other CLC staff the Warlpiri rangers work together to manage the STIPA for its cultural and natural values under the strategic guidance and governance of the Traditional Owners through three regional IPA management committees and a combined Coordinating Council and Advisory Committee.

The work program for the Warlpiri Rangers is fairly diverse – with a large focus on fire management activities given the size of the IPA (101,580 km2) and the predominance of spinifex-based land systems in the region. The Regional Warlu (fire) Committee (a fire management committee made up of Aboriginal representatives from communities in the Tanami and Barkly regions) meets on an annual basis to review the previous year’s fire management activity and plan for the coming season. In collaboration with other ranger groups in the region the Warlpiri Rangers participate in these meetings and are responsible for implementing any actions and decisions made.   

Other components of the work program of the Warlpiri Rangers include:

  • Protection of a significant wild population of Bilbies through population monitoring and fire management actions;
  • catchment-scale Rubberbush and Parkinsonia control across the STIPA;
  • black-footed rock-wallaby population surveys in range country;
  • Indigenous Ecological Knowledge work with senior traditional owners;

Aerial Incendiary and ground based proscribed burning

Left: Warlpiri Ranger Support Officer Preston Kelly on a burning trip in the Tanami

Like the North Tanami Rangers, Warlpiri Rangers have, in the past, been involved in fee-for-service work with Newmont at the Granites goldmine and looking to continue undertaking this work in the future. In 2015 both the North Tanami and Warlpiri Rangers have been contracted by ABM Resources to undertake predator (cat and fox) control and weed management work at the Twin Bonanza mine site.

Kaltukatjara Rangers

The Kaltukatjara Rangers operate out of Docker River and in recent years have been supporting the planning and management activities for the proposed Katiti Petermann IPA (due to be declared in 2015). 

Significant current activities conducted by the Kaltukatjara Rangers include supporting women’s and men’s cultural trips and protecting sacred trees, managing Walka rock art site, making Irmangka Irmangka rubbing medicine, undertaking Black Footed Rock Wallaby, Great Desert Skink and Mulgara tracking surveys, waterhole monitoring, erecting signage for managing visitors, fire and weed management. Kaltukatjara Rangers also maintain the Kaltukatjara campground and tourism infrastructure associated with Tjunti (Lasseter’s Cave).

Tjuwanpa Rangers

The Tjuwanpa Ranger Group 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.

The Tjuwanpa Rangers were active under the Flexible Employment Program arrangements of the NT Government’s Joint Management program. Under this program the Tjuwanpa Rangers undertook 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 and West 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. Unfortunately this program has been abandoned by the Parks and Wildlife Commission in preference for a casual employment model.

In recognition of their work the Tjuwanpa Rangers won the 2009 NT Indigenous Landcare Award and were short-listed for the National Landcare Awards. Also in 2014 the coordinator of this group was awarded the NT Ranger of the Year Award. 

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 studies in Conservation and Land Management.

Muru-warinyi Ankkul Rangers

The Muru-warinyi Ankkul group based at Tennant Creek is a team of four women and six men, plus other casual rangers during the peak fire season.

Like other ranger groups, Muru-warinyi Ankkul Rangers carry out a diverse range of work with a focus on landscape-scale conservation fire management as well as providing significant support to the local Bushfire Volunteers and Fire & Rescue Service Crews for wildfire response. Other work includes threatened species surveys for bilbies along the Hanson River corridor, a remote region of the Eastern Tanami Desert and for Black footed rock wallabies in a remote area east of the Stuart Highway on the Mungkarta Aboriginal Land Trust. They also have regular youth and community engagement projects with Barkly College, Tennant Creek Primary School and regional youth-at-risk programs, connecting school-age youth with traditional owners and taking them for cultural learning trips on country.   They maintain important cultural and historical sites on the old Phillip Creek Mission, conduct regular ongoing maintenance of tourism infrastructure at Kunjarra (Devil’s Pebbles), conduct weed treatment programs around outstations and waterways, primarily focussing on Rubberbush and Parkinsonia management.  They also regularly assist NT Parks & Wildlife Service in managing conservation areas including Davenports Range National Park and Tennant Creek Telegraph Station.

These rangers have also carried out successful cost recovery work for a number of small mining companies operating in the region, and in 2015 were successful in securing a fee for service contract to manage the campground at the Karlu Karlu (Devils Marbles) Conservation Reserve.

In April 2015, the men’s senior ranger was awarded the Conoco Phillips NT young Achiever of the year award and in June 2015, the women’s senior ranger was nominated as a finalist in the NT Vocational Trainee of the year awards.

Anmatyerr Rangers

Anmatyerr Rangers based at Ti Tree were intensely involved in an Ecosystem Management Understanding (EMU) planning project during 2010/11, and in 2012 started to implement priority projects on Ahakeye ALT identified through this planning process by traditional owners.

All of the rangers are currently enrolled in Certificate II or III in Conservation and Land Management and have completed various OHS training modules in first aid and heavy equipment use. In 2011 the rangers completed construction of a shed to store equipment and vehicles, and a new ranger office was built in 2015. Ongoing ranger work includes waterhole monitoring and maintenance works to protect culturally significant water places; cultural mapping of important sites and storylines and the maintenance of cultural sites and outstations including weed and feral animal management. Current projects include the construction of an exclusion fence to protect a threatened species of lily plant and collaborative work with scientists and ecologists to survey a proposed mine site for animal and plant species.

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 rangers engaged in an EMU pilot project over 2010/11, and in 2012 saw the group beginning to implement priority projects identified by traditional owners during the community-based planning process.

One of the key projects was conducted in the Urlampe Range where rangers completed 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. The rangers continue to monitor these sites conducting monthly water quality monitoring, reed removal and fence checking.

Ltyentye Apurte Rangers have recently partnered with CSIRO and Tangentyere to develop a climate change big book a community resource which explains climate change and changing weather patterns. This project also included planning and identifying works for erosion control across a number of sites on the Santa Teresa ALT. Other work that this group is involved in includes the management of horses and working with the local school to support learning initiatives on country.  

Anangu Luritjiku Rangers

Anangu Luritjiku Rangers, based at Papunya, started operation as a pilot ranger group in 2009 until Working on Country funding was secured in 2011 to support a permanent ranger group. There are currently six rangers employed and the focus of their work in 2015 will be on cultural heritage management and IEK projects, spring restoration, camel and other feral animal impact management around springs and waterholes, fire and weed management and general biodiversity survey and monitoring work across the Haasts Bluff ALT.

These rangers have also been undertaking 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 school and is involved in a number of school country visits and talks about various aspects of ranger work.

Murnkurrumurnkurru Rangers

The second of the pilot ranger groups to transition to a permanent basis in 2011 is the Murnkurrumurnkurru 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. The rangers carry out a mix of fire management, cultural site and biodiversity survey work, weed and feral animal management and some work on Judbarra (Southern Gregory) National Park when it is available.

In recognition of its achievements this group won the NT NRM Ranger Team of the Year Award in 2014.   

Arltarpilta Inelye Rangers

This is the youngest ranger group having started in 2012 as a pilot program with some occasional projects protecting country. In 2013 it became a stable pilot group with six casual rangers funded through the ILC’s Real Jobs program. Due to the committed involvement and support of the local traditional owners the group matured into a fully functioning ranger group with the ability to employ six permanent staff who can study the Certificate in Conservation and Land Management whilst working on practical cultural and natural resource management projects.

Based on the community-based planning and prioritisation by the traditional owners governance group rangers carry out a mix of projects involving cultural and historical site protection, biodiversity survey work, weed and feral animal management, fire management, and erosion mitigation. This work covers a range of landscapes and land tenure across the Plenty region. This includes projects such as fencing and monitoring culturally and environmentally important freshwater springs in the Dulcie Ranges National Park and on pastoral leases to stop damage from cattle, feral horses and camels. The rangers also assist Aboriginally-owned cattle stations, such as Huckitta, to undertake land management activities such as weed and feral animal control as well as on the Anatye and Alkwerte Aboriginal Land Trusts in the area.

Angas Downs Anangu Rangers

This group is based at Imanpa, about 300kms SW of Alice Springs.  The group currently consists of 5 young men who undertake work on the nearby Angas Downs Indigenous Protected Area, a 3,200 km2 former pastoral station now owned by the Imanpa Community.

Current ranger activities focus on reducing the impacts of feral animals (camels, horses and cattle) on the land.  In 2014-15 rangers built and maintained new boundary fencing, and trapped and sold hundreds of wild horses and cattle.  This work helps to reduce soil erosion, protect threatened species and significant cultural sites and also improves the management of Imanpa Community’s own herd of cattle.  Two 50 x 50m fenced monitoring plots have been constructed to exclude grazing by large stock and enable demonstration of the recovery of native vegetation.

The ranger group also works closely with the Imanpa School, organising field trips with senior community members and helping to facilitate the transfer of Indigenous Ecological Knowledge to young Aboriginal people.  Rangers also participate in biodiversity surveys, weed control (mainly buffel grass and couch grass), fire management, and rock art conservation.