MEDIA RELEASE: SA Meeting of Aboriginal Land and Sea Managers Calls on Govt to Boost Investment in Sector

Published: 19 Apr 2023

Over 75 representatives from SA Aboriginal Land & Sea Management Sector came together in Hahndorf. Group Pic with SA Deputy Premier Dr Susan Close and Greens SA Parlimentary Co-Leader Tammy Franks. Photo: Country Needs People

From 11-13 April 2023 over 75 representatives from the South Australian Aboriginal Land & Sea Sector - Aboriginal Rangers, Indigenous Protected Area Managers, Aboriginal Land & Sea Management staff, traditional owner groups looking to start caring for Country work and other stakeholders - came together in Hahndorf SA in a two-day workshop. From Cooper Pedy to Port Augusta, the APY Lands to the Far West Coast, the Murray Riverlands and beyond,  traditional owners gathered with the aim of sharing knowledge, aspirations and common challenges, calling for the South Australian State Government to grow its support for community-based Aboriginal ranger and caring for Country programs.

This is the first time such a large group from the South Australian Aboriginal land and sea management sector has come together to consider how the state government can better support traditional owners caring for Country.

Unlike QLD, NT and WA, SA Government has not yet developed a dedicated program to support community-based Aboriginal land and sea management.  – Queensland Government supports 200 ranger positions in Aboriginal-run organisations, has a dedicated support unit, offers grants and is investing approximately $25 million per year; Northern Territory has an 8 year grant program for projects and infrastructure; and Western Australia runs a grants program which has just been extended for another 4 years with over $50 mill investment.

On the last day of the workshop the SA Aboriginal Rangers group met directly with the SA Deputy Premier and Minister for Climate Environment and Water the Hon. Dr Susan Close and Greens SA Parliamentary Co-Leader The Hon. Tammy Franks and called for them to get behind traditional owners and grow South Australian Aboriginal Ranger jobs.

“Aboriginal Rangers provide meaningful employment and allow communities to look after Country”, says Keith Thomas, CEO of SA Native Title Services.

“We call on the SA Government to develop a strategy with the sector, establish a SA community-based Aboriginal Ranger program and to invest in measures to support new and existing teams and the South Australian network. This will benefit everyone, not just traditional owners, with healthier country and stronger communities.”

“It’s time for the South Australian Government to step up and show its support for Aboriginal Rangers and land and sea management”, said Paddy O’Leary, CEO of Country Needs People. “We’ve seen over the last few days how strong the grassroots support is from traditional owners across South Australia.”

“Aboriginal land and sea management is essential to protecting nature and sustaining culture. Community-based Aboriginal Ranger teams also provide opportunities for people by creating valued locally supported jobs, enabling individuals to care for their families and generate a positive economic and social return for local communities. And that can be transformative.”

The two-day workshop was organised and sponsored by Country Needs People in partnership with SA Native Title Services, Alinytjara Wilurara Landscape Board, SA Aboriginal Lands Trust, Far West Coast Aboriginal Corporation and the Indigenous Desert Alliance (IDA). The group committed to working together to grow Aboriginal land  and sea management to protect and manage the natural and cultural values of South Australia into the future.

Country Needs People are an independent not-for-profit organisation with a growing network of 44 Aboriginal and Torres Strait organisations across Australia who work and advocate for the growth, security and quality of Aboriginal land and sea management Australia-wide.