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Working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples

Indigenous Rangers - Working on Country

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

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

By achieving employment and environmental outcomes, alongside wider social, cultural and economic benefits, the work of Indigenous rangers is valued by Indigenous communities across Australia. 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.

In 2017, the World Future Council (WFC) awarded the Indigenous Protected Areas (IPA) and Indigenous Rangers programs the Bronze Future Policy Award: Desertification.

Funded ranger projects 30 September 2018
Indigenous ranger groups 123
Indigenous rangers (full time equivalent contracted positions) 839

Project locations

Capacity Building for Indigenous Rangers Strategy

There is growing demand for a highly skilled Indigenous ranger workforce, particularly in remote Australia. The aim of the Capacity Building for Indigenous Rangers Strategy is to strengthen the compliance capabilities and related skills of Indigenous rangers. The Strategy seeks to support rangers to take up surveillance and compliance employment opportunities with government regulatory agencies and other fee-for-service work.

The Strategy is also expected to support Indigenous rangers with their career development and advancement and to encourage their engagement with students and youth, to help develop the next generation of Indigenous rangers.

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 River Rangers Program

The Murray-Darling Basin 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 in the Basin. The Program is one of a number of initiatives recently announced in the new Murray-Darling Communities Investment Package.

The $3.1 million Program will establish four new Indigenous river ranger groups across the Basin that will operate for 12 months commencing 1 July 2021. This new funding is in addition to the $750 million announced earlier in the year to extend the Indigenous Rangers Program from 2021-28.

The NIAA will deliver the Program and will be consulting with a wide range of stakeholders to inform the program design process.

For more information, please contact the relevant NIAA Regional Office located in the Murray-Darling Basin. Further details on the new Program will be available on the website shortly.

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