The McGowan Government has appointed an expert advisory group to help shape the future of the expanded $50 million Aboriginal Ranger Program (ARP).
The newly formed ARP Reference Group is comprised of 20 members and has been established to enable ongoing co-design of the program with the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions.
The group was selected based on members' experience with the Aboriginal ranger sector and programs. Consideration was also given to geographical location, to ensure advice encapsulates feedback from each region in Western Australia.
The reference group will provide advice to strengthen the program and provide ongoing guidance on the development and rollout on the new funding streams, which will target support for Aboriginal ranger programs where it is most needed.
The $50 million expanded program is in three funding streams across four years with $14 million planned to support new and emerging programs under the ARP Development Fund, $22.8 million to support established programs under the ARP Expansion Fund and $7 million under the new ARP Innovation Fund.
$4 million from the expanded program has also been allocated to boost program coordination and capacity building at the regional level, and a further $2.2 million will be directly invested into rangers under joint management projects for the Badimia conservation reserves and Thundelarra Conservation Park.
The State Government remains committed to supporting the Aboriginal corporations that successfully completed their projects under the first rounds of the ARP.
Opportunities for further funding will become available early next year with the view to continue to leverage additional investment from local government, Commonwealth Government, private sector and the not-for-profit sector to assist in 'closing the gap' between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people.
Officers from relevant government agencies and organisations will be invited to attend the reference group meetings as observers. Information on the reference group, including its membership and how others can provide input to the group, can be viewed online at https://dbca.wa.gov.au/aboriginalrangerprogram
Comments attributed to Environment Minister Reece Whitby:
"Since 2017, the ARP has funded 35 ranger projects across the State, providing employment for over 600 people and training opportunities, with almost half of those employed being women.
"Members of this newly established reference group come from all corners of WA and, with a range of firsthand experience, will be invaluable in co-designing the new funding streams to continue this good work.
"The McGowan Government remains committed to providing opportunities for Aboriginal people to work on country and this expanded program will increase those important opportunities."
Comments attributed to Aboriginal Affairs Minister Tony Buti:
"The ARP has proven to be a very successful initiative across the State, and one that plays an important part in empowering Aboriginal people to look after country.
"This program directly supports training opportunities to help Aboriginal rangers develop skills in conservation and land management, which helps build community resilience and leadership.