In May 2008, the Federal Government announced that it was aiming to create an additional 300 Aboriginal ranger positions by 2012. Funding for these positions was to be provided under the Working on Country program. As of January 2009, the program had allocated more than $7.25 million to three Anangu organisations.
The Paper Trail
On 8 May 2007, the Howard Federal Government committed $47.6 million, over four years, to a new Working on Country program. The aim of the program was “to employ Indigenous Australians in remote and regional Australia to deliver the maintenance, restoration, protection and improvement of Australia’s environment.”[i]
The then Federal Minister for the Environment and Water Resources (Hon Malcolm Turnbull MP) stated that the Working on Country program would “create properly paid jobs for Indigenous people looking after country” and thereby allow them “to move from casual employment into jobs with all the benefits of normal employment conditions.”[ii]
In the lead-up to the 2007 Federal Election, the Labor Party announced that it would “invest $90 million over five years to train and employ up to an additional 300 Indigenous rangers on Indigenous lands and waters.”[iii] As part of this commitment, the Labor Party promised that these rangers would be trained under “a nationally accredited land management qualification.”[iv]
The Labor Party won the election of 24 November 2007, and formed government.
On 13 May 2008, the Rudd Federal Government released its first Budget. In doing so, the Minister for Indigenous Affairs (Hon Jenny Macklin MP) reiterated the Government’s pre-election commitment to “enable the employment of up to 300 additional Indigenous rangers to protect and manage the environment.”[v] The Minister explained that these rangers would:
provide valuable environmental services in areas such as weed and feral animal eradication, fire management, fencing, restoration of vegetation and protection of endangered species.[vi]
Funding for Anangu rangers
By early January 2009, the Rudd Federal Government had allocated over $7.25 million to Anangu land-holding bodies in South Australia under the Working on Country program.
This funding was provided via the following four grants:
- $2.11 million for the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) ranger program,
- $784,000 for the Yalata Indigenous Protected Area ranger program,
- $1.61 million for Maralinga Tjarutja’s “A region built on pride of country” program, and
- $2.75 million for APY’s “Caring for Warru” program
Click here for more information on these grants
Announcing the last of these grants on 2 January 2009, the Federal Minister for the Environment (Hon Peter Garrett MP) explained that APY’s “Caring for Warru” program would “build up teams of rangers to provide environmental services” on the APY Lands and indicated that the work of these rangers would include:
- monitoring colonies of warru,[vii]
- controlling feral predators,
- controlling buffel grass, and
- educating young people.[viii]
At that time, the Minister also reiterated that the Working for Country program provided “ongoing jobs and training” for Indigenous rangers.[ix]
Departmental advice (updated 26 September 2010)
On 24 February 2009, the Paper Tracker asked the Federal Government for information on the likely outcomes of the four grants provided to Anangu. In particular we asked for information on:
- the number of Anangu who would be employed as rangers under each of the four grants,
- the number of those rangers who would be employed on a full time, ongoing basis, and
- the nature of the training that would be provided to the rangers over the five-year period covered by the grants.[x]
In a reply dated 3 April 2009, the Federal Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts advised that:
- the APY ranger program would employ five full time equivalent (FTE) rangers,
- the Yalata program would employ a full time senior ranger and three 0.8 FTE rangers,
- the Maralinga Tjarutja program would employ a Project Coordinator and four FTE rangers, and
- APY’s Caring for Warru program would employ a Project Officer and eight 0.5 FTE rangers.[xi]
The Department noted that while this information related “to the number of positions approved for funding” there was scope for organisations to divide full time positions into a number of part time appointments.[xii]
In relation to training, the Department advised that:
- participants in the Caring for Warru program would “undertake training in fox baiting, chemical handling and related land management activities” and that “other training needs” might “be identified during the life of the project”, and
- resources had been set aside for training under the APY and Yalata ranger programs but that the specific training requirements had not yet been determined.[xiii]
Finally, the Department noted that the Maralinga Tjarutja program had “not yet commenced” but was awaiting the “readiness of the administrative arms of Maralinga Tjarutja and Oak Valley to administer and manage the project.”[xiv]
On 10 September 2010, the Department advised the Paper Tracker that the Maralinga Tjarutja program had “been formally deferred.”[xv]
This article was last updated in September 2010. It has been archived and will no longer be updated. It will, however, remain accessible online as a source of background information for anyone wishing to undertake further research on this issue. Information included in the article was current at the time it was archived. Keep in mind, however, that Ministerial changes and names of departments, among other things, may have since changed.
[i] Government of Australia, 2007, “Environment: 2007-08 Budget Initiatives,” http://www.budget.gov.au/2007-08/ministerial/html/dotars-14.htm Accessed: 4 February 2009.
[ii] Turbull, M. 28 August 2007, “$14.6 million for Indigenous environmental projects,” media release.
[iii] Snowdon, W. 5 October 2007, “Federal Labor to create up to 300 Rangers as part of Indigenous economic development strategy,” media release. Available at: http://www.warrensnowdon.com/media/071005.htm. Accessed: 4 February 2009
[iv] Snowdon, W. 5 October 2007, “Federal Labor to create up to 300 Rangers as part of Indigenous economic development strategy,” media release. Available at: http://www.warrensnowdon.com/media/071005.htm. Accessed: 4 February 2009
[v] Macklin, J. 13 May 2008, Budget: Closing the Gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians, p26.
[vi] Macklin, J. 13 May 2008, Budget: Closing the Gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians, p26.
[vii] The warru is the Pitjantjatjara name for the black-flanked rock wallaby (petrogale lateralis). See: the “Warru Fact Sheet” published by Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Land Management. Available at: http://www.waru.org/organisations/aplm/documents/WarruFactSheets.pdf [File size: 267KB] Accessed: 4 February 2009.
[viii] Garrett, P. 2 January 2009. “$31.1 million for Working on Country projects”, media release and project descriptions. Available at: http://www.environment.gov.au/minister/garrett/2009/pubs/mr20090102.pdf. Accessed: 20 January 2009
[ix] Garrett, P. 2 January 2009. “$31.1 million for Working on Country projects”, media release and project descriptions. Available at: http://www.environment.gov.au/minister/garrett/2009/pubs/mr20090102.pdf. Accessed: 20 January 2009.
[x] McDonald, P. 24 February 2009, Letter to Hon P Garrett MP.
[xi] Mackie, K. (DEWHA). 3 April 2009, Letter to Rev P. McDonald.
[xii] Mackie, K. (DEWHA). 3 April 2009, Letter to Rev P. McDonald.
[xiii] Mackie, K. (DEWHA). 3 April 2009, Letter to Rev P. McDonald.
[xiv] Mackie, K. (DEWHA). 3 April 2009, Letter to Rev P. McDonald.
[xv] Edwards, B (DEWHA). 10 September 2010. Letter to Rev. P. McDonald.