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Working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples

Indigenous Ranger Programs

Indigenous ranger projects were first funded in 2007 through the former Working on Country program. The program has created more than 2,100 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. You can read more about different ranger activities at:

Locations of Commonwealth funded Indigenous land and water management projects are detailed on this map Indigenous Protected Areas - Commonwealth Funded Indigenous Ranger Groups (March 2021) - PDF 2.3 MB.

Details of project activities are available in the Indigenous land and sea management projects interactive map.

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

Grant Opportunity 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 Indigenous Rangers 2021 to 2028 Grant Opportunity opened 15 February 2021 and closed 29 March 2021.

To coincide with World Ranger Day 2021, the Minister for Indigenous Australians, the Hon Ken Wyatt AM, MP has announced the outcomes of the grant opportunity.

More than $746 million will now be provided to 80 Indigenous ranger organisations over seven years to 2028. Funding will continue support for more than 1,900 Indigenous jobs and allow ranger groups to be more strategic with their land and sea country management.

Indigenous ranger projects support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to combine traditional knowledge with conservation training to protect and manage their land, sea and culture.

Updates

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

To mark World Ranger Day 2021, the Australian Government announced the establishment of five new Indigenous river ranger groups. The groups applied through the Murray-Darling Basin Indigenous River Rangers grant round.

The $3.1 million program empowers Indigenous organisations to improve waterway health, manage country and sustain the Basin’s valuable environmental assets. The rangers, ranger coordinators and support staff will use their knowledge and connection to country to support environmental and cultural outcomes across the breadth of the Basin. The new rangers will begin working in mid-2021 for a period of 12 months.

More detail is available on the successful organisations and ways in which they will improve cultural and environment waterway health.

The Government's investment in our First Nations communities was announced on 8 September 2020 as one of a number of initiatives through the Murray-Darling Communities Investment Package.

Pest and Weed Control Funding

On 11 May 2021, the Australian Government announced a $29.1 million investment over four years to continue efforts to deliver better solutions to combat established pest animals and weeds posing a significant threat to Australian primary production, the environment and Australia’s biodiversity. This investment recognises the impact of bushfires, flood and drought on their control and prevalence. As a component of this package, the Government has committed $4 million to expand the role of Indigenous rangers in on-ground pest animal and weed management with a particular focus on the protection of biodiversity and cultural values.

For more information refer to the Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment's Budget 2021-22 Environment Protection Fact Sheet and the Budget 2021-22: $29.1 million to manage established pest animals and weeds.

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