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Working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples

The Indigenous Ranger Program

Indigenous ranger projects were first funded in 2007 through the former Working on Country program. The program has created more than 2100 full-time, part-time and casual jobs in land and sea management around the country, providing meaningful employment, training and career pathways for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.

Indigenous ranger projects support Indigenous people to combine traditional knowledge with conservation training to protect and manage their land, sea and culture. This includes activities such as bushfire mitigation, protection of threatened species, and biosecurity compliance.  Indigenous ranger groups also develop partnerships with research, education, philanthropic and commercial organisations to share skills and knowledge, engage with schools, and generate additional income and jobs in the environmental, biosecurity, heritage and other sectors.

The work of Indigenous rangers is highly valued by Indigenous communities across Australia, for achieving both environmental and employment outcomes, alongside wider social, cultural and economic benefits. An independent evaluation of the Indigenous Rangers and Indigenous Protected Areas programs in 2016 found that rangers had experienced increased confidence and skills through their training and work on country.

Rangers reported they felt more pride, self-worth, health and wellbeing, with closer connections to family, culture and country. Ranger groups also reported a wide range of community benefits as a result of the programs, including safer communities, strengthened language and culture, an ability to find meaningful employment, increased respect for women, and more role models for younger people.

Funded ranger projects 9 April 2021
Indigenous ranger groups 129
Indigenous rangers and coordinators (full time equivalent contracted positions) 898.7

Project locations

Funding Extension 2021 – 2028

On 10 March 2020, Minister for Indigenous Australians, the Hon Ken Wyatt AM MP, and Minister for the Environment, the Hon Sussan Ley MP, jointly announced the extension of the Indigenous Rangers Program from 2021 to 2028. The National Indigenous Australians Agency is currently implementing the extension. For information on progress, please see the updates below.


Murray-Darling Basin Indigenous River Rangers Program

Applications are now open for the Murray-Darling Basin Indigenous River Rangers Program. Indigenous organisations in the Murray-Darling Basin wanting to establish an Indigenous rangers program to manage, protect and sustain Australia’s valuable environmental assets are strongly encouraged to apply.

The Murray-Darling Basin Indigenous River Rangers Program, announced on 8 September 2020, will enable river rangers to use their knowledge and connection to country to manage and restore rivers and wetlands across the breadth of the Basin. The Program is one of a number of initiatives announced in the new Murray-Darling Communities Investment Package.

The $3.1 million Program will establish up to four new Indigenous river ranger groups to work on waterway health projects that support environmental and cultural outcomes across the Basin. The Program will employ around 20 full-time equivalent Indigenous rangers, as well as a number of ranger coordinators. The new groups will operate for 12 months commencing on or soon after 1 July 2021. The NIAA will deliver the Program. This new funding is in addition the recent process to extend the current Indigenous Rangers Program from 2021-28.

Apply now

Funding for the Murray-Darling Basin Indigenous River Rangers Program will be determined by an open, competitive grant process. Online applications opened on Tuesday 6 April 2021 are available on GrantConnect with the grant opportunity guidelines. Applications will remain open until Tuesday 18 May 2021.

More detail is available in the Program’s information paper PDF 464KB | DOCX 524KB.

Further questions regarding the application process can be sent to, noting that assistance with applications cannot be provided and only general questions can be responded to.

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