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New Aboriginal rangers begin work within South Australia’s National Parks and Wildlife Service

Callan Morse -

The first of 15 Aboriginal rangers have begun their new roles within South Australia’s National Parks and Wildlife Service.

The five new rangers, employed as part of a South Australian government $5million initiative, will be responsible for the maintenance and presentation of park facilities and assets across multiple South Australian National Parks, including the Fleurieu Peninsula, Kangaroo Island, Outback, Far West and Lower Limestone Coast districts.

The roles will see the Indigenous rangers participate in fire and emergency response, work with key partners including park neighbours, conservation partners and volunteers, and engage with Aboriginal communities.

New National Parks and Wildlife Service ranger Ashley Millar said he is looking forward to playing a role in the environmental and cultural conservation of South Australian National Parks.

"I am excited about working on Country and playing an important role in nature conservation,” he said.

“Being a National Parks and Wildlife Service ranger gives me the opportunity to care for both the environment and the cultural heritage in our national parks, while ensuring park visitors have a safe and memorable experience.”

Specific objectives of the Aboriginal ranger program includes increasing the number of co-managed parks, better protecting Aboriginal heritage and cultural sites and ensuring Aboriginal people have a voice on the future of the River Murray.

South Australian Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Kyam Maher said involving First Nations people in the management of South Australia’s National Parks and Wildlife Service provides an opportunity for rich cultural knowledge and understanding of South Australia’s natural environment to be shared.

"Aboriginal people bring a deep knowledge and understanding of our natural environment which has been developed over tens of thousands of years,” Minister Maher said.

“These new rangers will bring an Aboriginal perspective to the management of country and that is good thing for country and for tourist experiences.”

There are now 30 Aboriginal rangers employed within South Australia's National Parks and Wildlife Service, with that number set to grow to 40 within the next two years.

National Parks and Wildlife Service acting director of regional operations Craig Nixon said engaging with the Indigenous community and Traditional Owners has been crucial in increasing the number of Aboriginal rangers in the Service.

“Our recruitment process has relied on regional relationships with senior community Traditional Owners to identify locally based community members with an interest and aptitude for a ranger’s role,” Mr Nixon said.

“The employment of 15 new Aboriginal rangers will mean more than 25 per cent of NPWS rangers are Aboriginal.”

The South Australian Government’s plan to increase in number of Aboriginal rangers employed within the National Parks and Wildlife Service aims to make certain Aboriginal people and culture are at the forefront of the parks network, ensuring First Nations stories are an integral part of visitor experiences.

South Australian deputy premier Susan Close said the Malinauskas government "is committed to honouring the pivotal role Aboriginal people have played in managing our landscapes for thousands of years".

“Employing more Aboriginal rangers will help support culture, storytelling and language, and provide a much richer experience for people visiting national parks," she said.
 

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