New Aboriginal rangers focus on country

Daryna ZadvirnaAlbany Advertiser
Southern Aboriginal Corporation’s new rangers Jackson Toovey, Samantha Williams, Errol Eades and Shawn Colbung.
Camera IconSouthern Aboriginal Corporation’s new rangers Jackson Toovey, Samantha Williams, Errol Eades and Shawn Colbung. Credit: Laurie Benson

Southern Aboriginal Corporation’s new team of rangers is set to boost conservation in local national parks as part of a Federal Aboriginal Rangers Program.

The Moorditj Noongar and Yorgas — Albany Aboriginal Rangers, will deliver environmental restoration, monitor important flora and fauna species, interpret local culturally significant sites, and help with the development of trails along the south coast.

Program co-ordinator Samantha Williams said the four rangers had been busy eradicating weeds around the Wellington Wetlands and Lake Seppings since the initiative started last month.

“Next week we will go to Denmark to be trained to manage wildlife camera traps,” she said.

“We’ll be swapping the tapes around every eight days and then checking the footage for feral animals like cats, foxes and rabbits, and also ring-tailed possums, to monitor their numbers.”

Ms Williams said the team would be involved with a range of other activities, including conservation and land training at TAFE, throughout the two-year program.

“The Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions are planning on setting up joint management of Gull Rock and working with us to set up an interpretive display with Aboriginal stories,” she said.

“When the conditions are right, probably around April or May, we’ll also receive training by Department of Fire and Emergency Services in prescribed burning.

“So eventually we’ll be doing burning off at the Gull Rock National Park, which is really important for us. With everything happening in NSW, I think it really needs to be done.”

The group brought in important knowledge of their own, according to Ms Williams, with Jackson Toovey having previously been involved with land management with the City of Albany and Errol Eades with Gondwana Link.

“I just feel so privileged, as an Aboriginal person, to be out and caring for country. It’s so significant and I think the boys feel the same,” she said.

“Every now and then we’ll also be bringing in Aboriginal elders to pass on their knowledge and stories.”

SAC chief executive Asha Bhat said the ranger program was a natural extension of the SAC’s focus on improving training and employment for Noongar people.

She was delighted to be one of the recipients of the Federal program’s second round of funding.

“Moorditj is the Noongar word for ‘solid’— we are promoting this theme through our outreach community programs,” she said.

“We expect that this project will create further pathways for our rangers to develop careers in land management while also providing long-term cultural and conservation outcomes.”

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