South West Aboriginal corporation Karri Karrak scores State funding for Indigenous rangers

Warren HatelyAugusta Margaret River Times
Nathan Hammer and Jackson Res, from Nature Conservation’s on-ground team, with Undalup Rangers Meeka Rees, 21, and Kaylene Gray, 42.
Camera IconNathan Hammer and Jackson Res, from Nature Conservation’s on-ground team, with Undalup Rangers Meeka Rees, 21, and Kaylene Gray, 42. Credit: Trevor Paddenburg/RegionalHUB

The region’s new Aboriginal corporation governing the South West has received a funding boost from the State Government supporting Indigenous rangers.

About $150,000 was awarded last week to the Karri Karrak Aboriginal Corporation for its rangers program working alongside conservationists, community groups and the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions.

The project was one of 21 On Country start-ups funded from a $13 million pool, which Environment Minister Reece Whitby said had created about 1400 jobs for Indigenous Australians since 2017.

“The Aboriginal Ranger Program is a fantastic initiative that has created meaningful opportunities for Aboriginal people and their communities,” Mr Whitby said.

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“Not only has the program directly led to employment for nearly 1400 Aboriginal people, it’s also been great for WA’s environment, with feral animal management conducted across 1.5 million hectares of land since 2017.

“I congratulate successful recipients and look forward to them in action.”

As one of six Noongar regional corporations established as part of the South West Native Title Settlement, Karri Karrak was the official body for the Wardandi, Bibulmun/Piblemen, and Kaneang groups.

A spokesperson for Karri Karrak said the round seven funding would help the corporation establish its own ranger program.

“(The rangers) will be key to ensuring our important cultural knowledge and practices can be increasingly applied across the landscape for the benefit of Noongar people now, and for generations to come,” the spokesperson said.

Aboriginal Affairs Minister Tony Buti said he was pleased to see Aboriginal programs going “from strength to strength”.

“As a government, we are committed to supporting social and economic opportunities for Aboriginal communities,” Mr Buti said.

“This program is a fine example of this (support) in action.”

Margaret River-based Undalup Association has previously benefitted from the same funding program for its on-country work with Nature Conservation Margaret River Region and DBCA.

Undalup’s Zac Webb told the Times the rangers started with his organisation to test the model, which would then be combined with the Karri Karrak program ahead of a new joint management agreement with DBCA.

“They will eventually be running the entire program,” Mr Webb said.

The Karri Karrak project was in association with Bunbury-based Gnaala Karla Booja Aboriginal Corporation.

A DBCA spokesperson said the funding helped organisations employ and train Aboriginal people as rangers, co-ordinators and support staff to undertake land and sea management activities,” the spokesperson said.

“This included biodiversity monitoring and research, bushfire and cultural site management, work on feral animal and weed control, as well as teaching visitors, providing welcome ceremonies, and managing visitor education.”

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