Indigenous Land & Sea Managers Inspired by Fellow Rangers

Monica Haynes
June 19, 2017

Djunbunji ranger Victor Bulmer at indigenous ranger workshopIndigenous land and sea managers from across the Wet Tropics region came together to build networks, and support practical skill sharing that helps rangers manage country and culture.

The 4-day workshop was hosted by Jabalbina Aboriginal Corporation on Kuku Nyungkal clan estate in Kuku Yalanji country, with support from Terrain Natural Resource Management and Wet Tropics Management Authority (the Authority). Terrain is able to undertake this important work through funding from the Australian Government's National Landcare Programme.

Ranger groups attending the workshop said a big highlight was learning about Jabalbina's innovative Junior Ranger program, which results in a certificate for participating Mossman senior school students and builds a connection between students and the Jabalbina rangers.

The workshop featured sessions ranging from technical know-how and information about weeds, fire management, and drone operation, to joint management and enterprise development discussions. However, the benefits extend far beyond practical skills according to Jabalbina CEO Jim Turnour.

“This is also about bringing people together: sharing knowledge and experiences, and inspiring and motivating. It’s not easy working in two different worlds, and it’s important to ranger groups to keep culture strong and making that work within a government context,” Mr Turnour said.

Phillip Minniecon is the Ranger Coordinator for the Jabalbina Rangers and said he was impressed with the level of collaboration.

“I love it. I get to sit down with other coordinators and talk about the issues we’re facing. All of a sudden it’s not just you trying to solve a problem, you’ve got all of these other guys helping you brainstorm problems. I had had something on my mind for 12 months, and within 5 minutes, someone had answered that problem for me!”

More than 60 people attended, including representatives from established ranger groups such as Yirrganydji, Djunbunji, Girringun, and Gunggandji, and emerging ranger programs such as Jirrbal and Djabugay.

Representatives from ranger programs that are new or being established said it was helpful to see what other groups are doing in terms of work programs. Jirrbal man and a Board Director of Wabubadda Aboriginal Corporation, Nathan Joinbee, said he was hoping Jirrbal’s ranger program would be up and running by early next year, and that he came away with plenty of ideas from other groups that will help get it off the ground.

Mr Turnour concluded, “We really appreciate the support that Terrain and Wet Tropics Management Authority have given us in being able to host this workshop, from logistics through to facilitation to communications support. We’re in the business of supporting Bama (Traditional Owners), and the technical and human aspects of workshops like this are vital for the land and sea management organisations and community health as a whole.”