Southern Deserts Rangers Shine

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As people settle in back at home from the inaugural Southern Deserts Ranger Forum held at Ilkurlka in the Spinifex lands, approximately 900 km east of Kalgoorlie, Western Australia – all participants are reflecting on a highly successful and inspiring event.

The event attracted more than 85 people from across Western Australia, South Australia and the Northern Territory – 60 of whom were indigenous rangers. Collectively the ranger groups in attendance manage an area of 1.2 million square kilometres across Western Australia and South Australia.

They included:

  • Spinifex Land Management rangers (Tjuntjuntjara, WA)
  • Maralinga Tjarutja rangers (Oak Valley, SA)
  • APY Lands rangers (various communities, SA)
  • Ngadju Rangers (Norseman, WA)
  • Birriliburu (Wiluna Martu, Wiluna, WA)
  • Ngaanyatjara Rangers (Blackstone, Warburton, Warakurna, WA)
  • Yalata Rangers (Yalata, SA)
  • Goldfields Land & Sea Council rangers (Kalgoorlie)

Other participating organisations included Alinytjara Wilurara Natural Resources Management (SA), Rangelands NRM (WA), Parks SA, NG Media and Morningstar training.

The highlights included:

  • Welcome to Country by Spinifex Elders
  • Ranger stories – sharing experience and knowledge
  • Managing camels – diverse approaches
  • Waterholes – new and old ways of managing them
  • Ranger Coordinator meeting
  • Men’s cultural activities
  • Cultural exchanges
  • Rifle safety
  • Tourism management and compliance
  • Technology engagement – using drones and other tools to monitor threatened species and record data
  • Soft skills – presentation, increased public speaking confidence and networking

Spinifex rangers said:

Ethan Hansen- ‘It was great showing them where we come from and catching up with other rangers’

Delwyn Franks- ‘It was good and good to see other rangers working together’

Scott Baird– ‘It was a great experience and it was good to see other rangers doing work for the same reasons’.

‘It was a fantastic week’, said Ten Deserts Coordinator, Jimmy Cocking.

‘The rangers were engaged in a variety of knowledge areas including management of feral camels, tourists and buffel grass. It really hit the mark, the flexible program enabled cultural activities, soft skills to be developed and a much needed ranger coordinator meeting.’

‘We are the lucky country, lucky that we have the people with the knowledge and the skills given opportunities to look after this desert country on all of our behalf. Hopefully they will be given the certainty and resources needed to continue this important job into the foreseeable future.’

For the duration of the event a cloud was hanging over the funding for the hosts, Spinifex Land Management. But with the advocacy and support of other groups and local member for O’Connor, Rick Wilson – Pila Nguru, Spinifex Rangers were told on Monday that they had funding certainty into the future.

‘We are excited and relieved to receive funding certainty’ said Ian Baird, Pila Nguru General Manager. ‘The Spinifex Rangers can now continue to implement the communities Healthy Country Plan and generate lasting environmental, cultural and social outcomes across their vast Lands.

The general feedback is that the event should become an annual fixture, with the possibility of rotating hosts.

The inaugural Southern Deserts Ranger Forum was organised by Pila Nguru, Spinifex Land Management with the support of the Indigenous Desert Alliance, Ten Deserts Initiative with funding provided by the WA Government, and sponsorship by AngloAshantiGold. Indigenous Ranger Programs and Indigenous Protected Areas are supported by the Australian Government.

Organisers from Ten Deserts and the Indigenous Desert Alliance are looking for supporting partners to help make this happen.


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