Funding for the Commonwealth Indigenous Ranger Program has been secured until 2028 with the announcement of millions from the Federal Government this week.

Minister for Indigenous Australians, Ken Wyatt, announced the funding on Tuesday, saying $102 million would be provided annually from 2021 to 2028, indexed each year, for the program.

Typically, Indigenous Rangers care for Country – both land and sea – to environmentally manage areas at the highest level.

“Indigenous Ranger Programs are instrumental in protecting Australia’s environment and heritage assets. In recent times there has been increased interest in how Indigenous Australians have cared for this land for 65,000 years,” Minister Wyatt said.

“The rangers conduct all manner of conservation, fire management and biosecurity roles to support our natural resources being managed in a sustainable way.”

The Minister said the further seven years of funding would give job security to many rangers as well as assuring the long-term planning and delivery of business and asset management.

“This extension will have the additional benefit of aligning with the funding cycle for Indigenous Protected Areas to assist organisations to better manage their workforce and projects that contribute to the National Reserve System,” Minister Wyatt said.

Minister for Environment, Sussan Ley, also supported the role Indigenous Rangers play in protecting the environment.

“The [Indigenous Protected Area] network covers some 67 million hectares and its traditional land management is adding to the overall resilience of Australia’s environment,” Minister Ley said.

“Traditional knowledge is helping to inform modern environmental science in managing our landscapes, protecting native species and in the ways we adapt to changing climates.”

Kimberley Land Council (KLC) has shared their support for the announcement but maintains their stance that the number of Indigenous Rangers needs to double based on the immense success the rangers are having.

Welcoming the funding, Acting CEO, Tyronne Garstone said the funding is a huge win not only for the environment, but the KLC’s own Kimberley Ranger Network.

“The KLC is immensely proud of what we have achieved together with the different ranger groups in developing the Kimberley Ranger Network,” Garstone said.

“Now that funding is secure until 2028, we have the ability to continue operating as an incubator for quality ranger programs and high functioning Prescribed Body Corporates as they develop their ranger teams.”

Garstone said ranger programs allow rangers to combine traditional knowledge with modern technologies as well as giving them the opportunity to work on Country.

“It builds leadership and creates economic opportunities for communities.”

By Hannah Cross