UTS Journalism and Law student, passionate about Indigenous Australian news and current affairs.
A unique project is creating Indigenous jobs while protecting the environment and supporting an Island community.
The Indigenous Land and Sea Ranger Program run by the Quandamooka Yooloorooborre Aboriginal Cooperation (QYAC) is the backbone for employment opportunities for the Indigenous community on North Stradbroke Island in Queensland.
QYAC CEO Cameron Costello said: “It has only been one year since receiving funding for our rangers programs and we have seen the positive impacts it has made to our local Indigenous community on Minjerribah – both financially and emotionally.”
The Quandamooka people are the traditional owners of the island, better known to the indigenous locals as Minjerribah.
Mr Costello said: “Through salaries and financial enhancement, the Quandamooka Ranger programs injects about $3 million per annum into the island’s economy and provides opportunities for many Quandamooka families to live and work on country which is QYAC’s main focus.”
The Ranger program allows Indigenous families to live and work on country and while Queensland Government funding has guaranteed the program for the next five years, further funding after 2021 is uncertain.
...is about having Quandamooka people working on country and there being a talent pool ... so that being a ranger is a viable career option
The Certificate III in Indigenous Conservation and Land Management provides basic training and the young rangers learn job skills, ethics, how to work on the ecologically fragile Island.
The role includes bushfire control, wildlife response, vessel operations, marine ecological surveys, weed and pest control, visitor management, and a range of contemporary systems to assist resource management.
The post-mining economic transition for North Stradbroke had provided some longer term certainty for the ranger program funding but it does not extend beyond 2021.
Ten rangers completed the program last year. Currently there are 24 full time and four casual Quandamooka rangers with hopes to double that number.
On a daily basis, they cover a variety of tasks such as weed and feral animal management, fire management, turtle nest monitoring and protection and cultural work including preservation of cultural heritage sites.
Principal ranger David Nalder said “The program is about having Quandamooka people working on country and there being a talent pool and ranger progression pathway into relevant educational courses so that being a ranger is a viable career option.”
The Queensland Government Department of Environment and Sciences had currently committed $1.75 million dollar funding to the current Quandamooka Rangers Program.
The career path includes many vital skills for locals, such as improved community skills, specific training programs and widespread community support for the Indigenous Land and Sea Ranger Program.