I would like to share with you my own story about how the Working on Country and Indigenous Protected Area programs have changed my life, and the lives of my family and community, for the better.
Ranger programs are a foundation that gives us the facility to deal with new and difficult knowledge from the outside world. Our country sees us and we put our scent on it; the essence of each individual goes into that place. This is our thinking, our way. That's what our old people tell us.
Working as a ranger brings a sense of identity to us as Aboriginal people, which allows us to be healthier in body, mind and spirit.
All the techniques of how to live in our country, which is one of the most important biodiversity hotspots in Australia, have been left for us to use by our old people. Through our ranger program we have added this customary knowledge to what non-Aboriginal people know about managing land.
We put our elders knowledge into managing our IPA, whether it be things such as fire management, cultural rock art recording, monitoring native animal species and reducing the impact of feral animals and weeds. Our old people walked everywhere caring for country and now as rangers we are doing the same thing.
This program of land management is a movement, and I think the government should be proud of the way they have supported us to undertake this movement. They trusted us and believed in the IPA and WoC programs and I think we have done a great job of producing the outcomes they wanted - for our own people and for the rest of the Australian people.
It would be a terrible shame to see this growing movement, one that is lifting our people up, stopped if funding is not continued into the future. Ranger programs are a movement that could continue to grow if more funding was committed and I know it would help other communities grow to be strong like ours has.
I hope you take the time to listen to our stories. We would also like to extend an invitation to both of you to visit us in the Stone Country of West Arnhem Land one day, to see for yourselves the positive impact ranger programs have on country, culture and communities.
- Terrah Diliyoung Guymala