Working on Country

Key action:

  • Continued support for Indigenous land and sea programs through the IPA and ranger programs beyond the current 2018 contracts
  • Additional investment to underpin the expansion of these programs to capitalise on the economic and social benefits of Indigenous land and sea management and enable Traditional Owners to take control and determine their own future

Traditional Owners have a wealth of knowledge and experience of land and natural resource management that can benefit private land owners and government organisations as well as Indigenous communities across the country.

The Working on Country program, through its facilitation of funding for Indigenous Protected Areas (IPA) and ranger groups, is a natural extension of native title in an area of primary interest for Traditional Owners and enables them to practice a broad suite of the rights recognised by the courts. Within these programs, Traditional Owners protect important environmental and cultural values on behalf of all Australians by caring for their country and playing an active role in natural resource management.

Participating communities have achieved significant environmental outcomes in areas such as threatened species management, feral animal and invasive weed control, fire management and management of cultural sites.

The programs have proven to be an effective pathway to other types of employment and have been shown to provide significant employment, health and social benefits for Traditional Owners which far exceeds the monetary investment from government. As such, they have made strong advances in key areas of the Closing the Gap strategy in participating communities.

In short, the Community Ranger and Indigenous Protected Area programs work and Government needs to support them. This means an ongoing commitment beyond 2018 when current contracts end and expanding the program beyond its current limitations.