The peak Indigenous body in Western Australia’s vast Kimberley says axing the Green Army will have “enormous consequences” for the ranger network in the region.
“For many of our young rangers, this program has provided them with their first opportunity to work on country and care for country,” Kimberley Land Council chief executive officer Nolan Hunter said.
“The program has increased the professionalism of our ranger network and has improved our capacity to deliver important biodiversity work in some of the remotest parts of the Kimberley.”
The Green Army was created by the Abbott Government after the 2013 federal election to recruit unemployed people for projects to restore the landscape and protect threatened species.
Thousands of people are involved in hundreds of projects across Australia, many of them Indigenous.
But the program was scrapped by the Turnbull government as part of the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook on Monday, saving $224.7 million over four years, though existing contracts would continue to be funded.
Mr Nolan said 30 Indigenous participants worked for the Green Army alongside rangers in the Kimberley, half of them women. The program also funded three ranger development positions in the Kimberley Ranger Network.
“This program has acted as a pathway for young people where there is a deficiency in job readiness, linked to limited education outcomes in remote areas,” Mr Hunter said.
“The removal of this funding could have enormous consequences for the Kimberley Ranger Network, from loss of individual jobs to potentially losing entire ranger teams.
Meanwhile the KLC and Yanunijarra Aboriginal Corporation have announced the YAC will now manage its Indigenous Ranger Program.
The YAC is the body corporate for the Ngurrara native title determinations.