Expand Aboriginal Rangers and support culture and enterprises

A hand pouring red dirt into another hand

Clean State acknowledges that Traditional Custodians and First Nations people have said that too often, environmental organisations focus on conservation outcomes and have not taken cultural implications or sustainable economic opportunities into account.

The recognition and protection of the rights of the Traditional Custodians, and sustainable local economies, must be a priority alongside conservation and is a focus of this section.

The Proposal

Clean State is advocating for the state government to:

  1. Develop meaningful, permanent ways to support and empower Aboriginal enterprises in culture, conservation and science.
  2. Triple funding to WA’s Aboriginal Ranger program and establish this as a permanent program.
  3. Increase funding for the WA Indigenous Business and Employment hub and open three new hubs in the regions by 2020 that provide a one-stop-shop for Indigenous businesses, entrepreneurs and job seekers to access advice and support, a place to work, and connect with corporates.
  4. Provide funding for operational activities (in addition to capital) in government grants for Aboriginal enterprises to address difficulties in attracting private investment due to lack of land tenure.
  5. Permanently protect the Fitzroy River Catchment and empower local custodians to determine its uses for cultural enterprises instead of water mining.

 

How much would it cost?

A three-fold increase to the existing program would cost $12m.

Providing an additional $2m funding for the WA Indigenous Business and Employment hub and opening three new hubs in the regions by 2020 that provides a one-stop-shop for Indigenous businesses, entrepreneurs and job seekers to access advice and support, a place to work, and connect with corporates would cost $5m per year.

Ngurarra Ranger Chantelle Murray

“When it comes to conversations about land management women play a very important role in looking after country through both cultural and western ways. There are a lot of opportunities arising for women rangers but not as much funding as we have expected. We all need to work together across different levels to tell our stories to accomplish our vision of more women rangers as this is very important to us and our future generations.”

– Ngurarra Ranger Coordinator Chantelle Murray (first female ranger in the Kimberley) 

Case Study: Kimberley Ranger Program – Women rangers protecting country and culture

In the Kimberley, women ranger teams have doubled in two years to 2019, with more than fifty trail-blazing women now employed across all parts of the Kimberley. However, women ranger teams face major challenges including funding shortfalls and short-term contracts. 

Corporate Services Manager Sarah Parriman says women rangers are leaders in their community and are inspiring many young women to take up the charge caring for country and culture.

Case Study: Collie Marron Farm

The Collie area has an opportunity to restart the Aboriginal-led marron farm in Collie. The farm utilizes wastewater from mining operations, purified and filtered through two dams, to raise the marron. There is presently a huge demand for bush tucker, far outweighing current supply and presenting a great opportunity for the wet and dry market proposed to accompany the farm. The bush tucker sales must be developed in a way that employs and empowers Aboriginal people. This food experience aspect will supplement tourism in the area.

Tripling the funding for the Aboriginal Ranger Program

The WA Government provided $20m over five-years for the Aboriginal Ranger Program in 2017, which funds 42 Aboriginal organisations 85 new jobs and 80 training opportunities from the Kimberley to Esperance.

Land and sea management activities include biodiversity monitoring and research, traditional knowledge transfer, fire management, cultural site management, feral animal and weed management, cultural awareness and immersion experiences for visitors, and guided tours and talks for visitors.

In the Kimberley, women ranger teams have doubled in two years to 2019, with more than fifty trail-blazing women now employed across all parts of the Kimberley. However, women ranger teams face major challenges including funding shortfalls and short-term contracts.

The program has been incredibly successful, and every funding round has been oversubscribed by at least three times.

 

Supporting culture, conservation and science enterprises more broadly

The UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples also noted equal opportunity employment efforts between indigenous and non-indigenous peoples from 2008-2018 were unsuccessful and indicated negative trends.

The Noongar Land Enterprise Group identified issues affecting indigenous communities across the State including:

  • Many grant opportunities provide funding for capital but not operations. This leads to insufficient management of the capital in land enterprises. Greater funding for operations will create more jobs in the management and operation of land enterprises and provide security for capital investments.
  • Lack of land tenure prevents First Nations communities from accessing loans and investment outside government grants to support independent infrastructure development and employment in remote communities.

Clean State consulted with a number of First Nations leaders and practitioners in the development of this Plan who identified a range of ways jobs in Aboriginal enterprises and ‘forever industries’ could be supported.

Areas for priority investment in First Nations-led enterprises identified included

  1. Nurseries providing seedlings and services for mine site rehabilitation, and linking rehabilitation with aboriginal enterprises more broadly
  2. ‘Luxury cultural tourism’ infrastructure and services
  3. Bioprospecting and regenerative agriculture
  4. Requiring offsets programs to have cultural and social benefits
  5. ‘Luxury cultural tourism’ (see Tourism Chapter)
  6. Supporting the Fitzroy River Catchment for cultural enterprises instead of water mining
  7. Sustainable aquaculture (such as Marron farming)

 

First Nations Land Tenure

Lack of land tenure prevents First Nations communities from accessing loans and investment outside government grants to support independent infrastructure development and employment in remote communities.

Many grant opportunities provide funding for capital but not operations leading to insufficient management of the capital in land enterprises. Greater funding for operations, from the government or private sources, will create more jobs in the management and operation of land enterprises and provide security for capital investments.  

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