Management of Ngadju ranger program handed over to Indigenous community

Published: 30 Oct 2015

From ABC Rural, Tara De Landgrafft, 29 October 2015

This week marked a very significant milestone for the Ngadju Indigenous ranger team with the conservation program formally handed over to the community.

This week marked a very significant milestone for the Ngadju Indigenous ranger team with the conservation program formally handed over to the community.

Over the past five years the team, based at Norseman in Western Australia, has been established, trained, certified and was now working on country.

Management of the team was officially handed over to the local community at a ceremony on Wednesday.

The original concept was the brainchild of Ngadju traditional owner Les Schultz and Peter Price, of Gondwana Link.

The men came up with the idea after talking about how to get more young people employed and engaged in looking after country.

Mr Price said it has been a long, fulfilling road and he was feeling rather nostalgic about what had been achieved.

"It's the end of one part of the journey," he said.

"Our role now is to find sustainable funding for this program; it doesn't have financial legs of its own yet.

"We won't be satisfied here until we have a program where a minimum of six people are fully employed full time, for a minimum of four years."

As for how long he expected that to take, Mr Price did not believe it would be too far off.

"I'm very ambitious [and] I think that in the next 12 months we should be able to bring that together," he said.

Mike Griffiths was the new program mentor and would be based in Norseman.

He said he was looking forward to growing the program with the help of the community.

"I'm really excited, this is fantastic," Mr Griffiths said.

"This is a really good time for me to step in because all the foundations have been laid.

"There is a lot of work that has happened before my time and now I'm basically parachuted in here and I pick up with a really revved-up bunch of guys that want to get out on country.

"It's such an exciting time, there are so many opportunities ahead of us, it's really good."

But Mr Griffiths admitted there would be challenges too.

"There's definitely going to be challenges, I've seen them already — maintaining momentum, funding is always a thing," he said.

"That's probably the biggest challenge that I'm seeing at the moment, letting the guys know there is a reason for them to stay long enough to join the team properly and get a really good ranger program going."

Phillip Coghlan was one of the ranger team's newest members and said joining the program was more than just a financial decision.

"I really like to work out on country out there for my land and give back to my culture," Mr Coghlan said.

"It's not really just about the money and stuff; it does revolve around your country, your community and environment and that's what I like to do, you know, keep it clean, healthy and tidy."

Ngadju female ranger coordinator Jasmine McPhee said the handover was an important step for the region's future conservation.

"Yeah I'm really proud. I can't believe that we started off little and now we're actually growing bigger," she said.

"There is so much work to be done on this country and all our family members and generations to come really need to get in with Ngadju conservation because it is our country, lets look after it and care for it."