Senate debates

Wednesday, 11 September 2019


Indigenous Ranger Forum

7:30 pm

Photo of Malarndirri McCarthyMalarndirri McCarthy (NT, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I rise to speak about one of the culturally important events that took place in Darwin over the winter break. The north Australia Indigenous Ranger Forum , which was held in Darwin, on Larrakia-Kenbi country, is in its third year and brings together r anger groups from Cape York right across the Top End to the Kimberl e y. I was able to head across to the gathering , by ferry from Darwin Harbour to Cox Peninsula , to meet the 400 rangers who gathered for knowledge-sharing, networking and professional development. More than 60 ranger groups from Cairns to Broome came together over three days and camped out there. It was organised by the Northern Land Council. I was also pleased to be able to invite the shadow minister for northern Australia, Senator Murray Watt , who was in Darwin that week . He has been up in the Northern Territory quite a number of times , in fact. We might have to make him an honorary Territorian ! He came to attend the ranger forum .

Techniques in fire management help militate against destructive bushfires in the Northern Territory , and sea monitoring— for turtles, dugongs and dolphins, as well as for ghost nets and debris —helps to better protect sea life. For those of you who don't know, ghost nets are a really significant issue for our sea creatures right around Australia but in particular in the north. So our sea rangers are very focused on making sure that those ghost nets are removed from the oceans , as they cause tremendous damage to our wildlife. More and more of our ranger groups are combining those techniques that they use to look after our waterways and our lands. They're combining their traditional techniques with new research and technology, working in partnership with universities and government to upskill , and to protect and preserve biodiversity in the best possible way.

That is why the Indigenous Ranger Forum is so important. It's a welcome place where groups can share knowledge, learn new skills and also connect with one another . You don't often get to see each other because the ranger groups are based in very isolated parts of northern Australia. It's also important as a mental health exercise, to bring together that community spirit and to know that you are doing something very worthwhile, not just from a cultural perspective but over all for our country , in terms of looking after Australia.

For Mardbalk ranger Nicholas Hunter, the highlight of the forum was learning how drones can enhance a ranger group's capabilities in compliance, fire, bio security and erosion management. He said:

Using drones can save a lot of time and help with safety, for example if you ' re fire burning you wouldn ' t want to get trapped in an area where someone has been burning. You can send the drones in to check and they can take video shots or do live feeds.

Also for protection of sacred site areas and ceremony grounds, drones can be useful.

He'll now take the new skills learnt from the forum back to Wurrawi on Goulburn I sland to share with his colleagues.

I was also very proud to see the Li-Anthawirriyarra sea rangers , who came from my home country of the Yanyuwa people in Borroloola ; and the Waanyi-Garawa rangers , who are also my clan group , from the gulf area of Robinson River and Wollogorang Station . They came together and shared information.

I'm certainly proud of the strength Indigenous rangers show in caring for country and looking after sites , and protecting and preserving what we know is important to preserve. It's also providing really important employment opportunities. Rangers are often seen as the leaders in the community. They're looked up to and admired and they take that role very seriously, often carrying the struggles of others' lives and families on their shoulders. So I certainly thank each and every one of the rangers for the work they do and for the love they show for their culture, their country and their people. I'm immensely proud to be able to acknowledge the work of Indigenous rangers across the Northern Territory and all people who work with them—Indigenous and non-Indigenous—right across northern Australia, and I pay tribute to them. I'll speak on another night of the Darwin Festival.