Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Nigel Scullion, has congratulated 22 Indigenous rangers and four Indigenous Compliance Officers on completing their Certificate IV in Statutory Compliance at a graduation ceremony in Cairns today.
The graduates completed the course as part of the Coalition Government’s Specialised Indigenous Ranger Programme (SIRP).
“This programme is the first of its kind, a genuine partnership between the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) and federal and state governments,” Minister Scullion said.
“The programme has designed and delivered specialised training to equip Indigenous rangers with the skills to respond to suspicious and illegal activities that rangers regularly come across as part of their work.
“The rangers who are graduating today now have the necessary qualifications to be appointed as Marine Park Inspectors. The Indigenous Compliance Officers will continue to work with GBRMPA’s Indigenous Compliance Team to support Indigenous rangers in their remote area work.
“I would like to congratulate everyone who has been involved in the programme on their individual success, which has contributed to the success of the programme as a whole.
“The Coalition is absolutely committed to the ongoing success of the ranger programme and is keen to see First Australians who are employed as rangers have the opportunity to expand their skills and pursue a broader range of careers.
“Our commitment goes beyond just throwing money at the programme. We are committed to working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to ensure they can reach their full potential.”
Member for Leichhardt, Warren Entsch, congratulated today’s graduates and acknowledged the value of the ranger programme in providing job opportunities for Indigenous people to care for their country, learn important skills and reduce environmental damage from feral animals, among other benefits.
“I’d especially like to acknowledge the great work of some of our local rangers, the Epong family and the Mandubarra Land & Sea Corporation at East Innisfail, Larissa Hale and the Yuku Baja Muliku Corporation at Cooktown, and Gavin Singleton and the Dawul Wuru Aboriginal Corporation in Cairns,” Mr Entsch said.
“These groups in particular are to be commended for their work to manage the traditional take of threatened turtle and dugong species and I welcome any increase in rangers’ ability to deal with suspicious or illegal activity in our region.”
The Specialised Indigenous Ranger Programme responds to long-held calls by Indigenous rangers for formal qualifications and recognition of the technical role they play in protecting our ecosystem. It also provides rangers with the skills and expertise to respond in real time to community concerns about people doing the wrong thing on traditional land and seas.
GBRMPA Chairman, Russell Reichelt, said he was delighted to celebrate this occasion and looked forward to working with the Indigenous rangers and compliance officers to help protect the Great Barrier Reef.
More than 2600 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are now employed as Indigenous rangers through the Coalition Government investment of more than $425 million over five years for Indigenous rangers and Indigenous Protected Areas.