Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Nigel Scullion, has used an address to the 2017 Kimberley Ranger Forum to reaffirm the Coalition’s absolute commitment to the future of Indigenous rangers – including record funding of more than $70 million a year.
Speaking yesterday at the forum being hosted by the Kimberley Land Council at Penders Bay, Minister Scullion said Indigenous rangers played a crucial role in protecting land and sea country.
“Our First Australians have been looking after country since time immemorial,” Minister Scullion said.
“The Indigenous Ranger Programme, started by the Howard Government, has not only been an important employment programme, it has continued this legacy of land and sea management across Australia.
“Rangers play a critical role, especially in northern Australia. And importantly, they are great role models for younger First Australians, especially through school ranger programmes and activities to engage disconnected youth.
“Under the Coalition Government, Australian Government agencies are increasingly turning to Indigenous rangers to contract work, especially in the areas of biosecurity, fisheries and border protection.
“Our record levels of funding – an increase of 15 per cent over funding provided by the previous Labor government – support the employment of more than 2500 First Australians as Indigenous rangers. This investment is not only leading to better environmental outcomes on country, but is providing valuable employment opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.”
Minister Scullion said the Coalition Government was also investing more than $30 million as part of the Capacity Building for Indigenous Rangers Strategy to enable rangers to further develop their technical and leadership skills. Initially, funding will be rolled out in the Torres Strait.
“It was great to be able to speak to this forum of rangers to discuss this important initiative that enables rangers to become authorised officers in a range of fields including Quarantine Officers, Marine Park Inspectors, Fisheries Inspectors and Border Patrol Officers,” Minister Scullion said.
“With Indigenous rangers being the custodians of land and sea country, I am especially supportive of forums like this which give them the opportunity to gain practical hands-on training and learn from each other, enabling them to return home and continue to preserve and protect our great land.”