Consulting with the elders
Senior Jawoyn elders and custodians are concerned the Jawoyn rangers are “young and don’t know the country...where the dangerous [sacred] sites are".
They are worried are about the cultural safety of the rangers and the need for senior and knowledgeable Jawoyn landowners and elders to train, support and at times work with the rangers to ensure they learn about cultural sites and appropriate behaviour to ensure the rangers and country are protected.
They speak with Jawoyn landowners and elders about land management issues and listen to their concerns and priorities. Rangers regularly consult with the group over a range of issues, including the need to fence areas, as well as concerns about crocodiles and poachers.
The Jawoyn Association introduced a ranger program to look after land and country in the late 1990s.
The Ranger program originally started under government-funded employment programs and grants concentrating on riverbank regeneration, weed spraying and small fire management.
In 2003, the group lost is coordinator and the program faltered due to a lack of interest. A year later, a comprehensive review of the program and land management strategies in consultation with traditional owners and elders gave new life to the program through refocusing activities on large-scale land management projects, particuarly in areas of cultural significance.
Since then, the group has expanded and there are now up to eight Jawoyn rangers caring for country. The group operates out of the Jawoyn Association offices in Katherine and is supported by a full-time coordinator.
We meld traditional values and culture with the latest in scientific land management practices
Jawoyn rangers manage their land by incorporating traditional values and culture with the latest in scientific land management practices. The ranger group's primary activities include:
- Involvement in the development and implementation of a natural resource management approach that incorporates traditional and scientific approaches.
- Fire management, including involvement in the West Arnhem Land Fire Abatement (WALFA) program
- Weed control
- Feral animal control
- Cultural resource management (ie. places, people, knowledge, paintings, objects, ceremonial, medical, environmental and other Indigenous knowledge).
- Visitor management control - monitoring poachers
The Jawoyn ranger program is a successful model to achieve a number of broad goals - for Jawoyn to manage their land effectively and to build employment, education and training opportunities for Jawoyn people. It is a program we look to build upon and expand into the future. Specifically, our plans are:
- To continue to expand the number of rangers in the program, particularly with the introduction of Indigenous Protected Areas on Jawoyn country.
- To build the capacity of the rangers and provide ongoing training and education support.
- The establish a Women’s Jawoyn Ranger Group.
For further information about the ranger program contact Ian McConnell or Ben Ulamari in the Natural Resources Unit. Phone: (08) 8972 5400