It’s not always easy to be a female Indigenous ranger, many of whom work in remote areas in a traditionally male dominated profession.
Despite this, they are playing an increasingly important role in protecting Queensland’s unique species and special places and conserving Indigenous culture.
To assist them, WWF-Australia and the Queensland government will provide a $200,000 grant to establish a Women’s Land and Sea Ranger Network and employ a co-ordinator to mentor female Indigenous rangers.
Queensland Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch and Cliff Cobbo, WWF’s National Conservation on Country Manager, announced the funding today with NAIDOC Week underway.
“This new position fits perfectly with NAIDOC’s theme this year – Because of Her, We Can! – which honours the role played by Indigenous women,” said Mr Cobbo.
“An Indigenous woman will be recruited to co-ordinate the network and provide support to Indigenous female rangers doing great work in sometimes difficult circumstances.
“The Women’s Land and Sea Ranger Network will enable women rangers to share their experiences, ideas and information.
“Those in remote communities can connect with other female Indigenous rangers who understand the challenges they face,” Mr Cobbo said.
Minister for Environment Leeanne Enoch said Indigenous rangers played a vital role in protecting Queensland’s environment and cultural heritage.
“Rangers perform unique leadership roles in their communities and contribute cultural knowledge to help protect Country.
“I am pleased the Queensland Government is able to provide funding to support establishing a Women’s Land and Sea Ranger Network here in Queensland.”
WWF-Australia has produced several short films to highlight the inspiring work being done by female Indigenous rangers.
A Girringun ranger with eight years’ experience, Cindy-Lou Togo, speaks of her pride in the role: “It means a lot to me to have this job as a ranger, to hold this position it makes me feel I’ve achieved so much.”
But there are challenges.
“It’s very hard to be a female ranger when there’s only four of you and rest are males ... there is that support from most of them and then there’s that non-support from them,” Ms Togo says.
Tracey Lampton, a ranger with the Gudjuda Reference Group, tells of tagging turtles, planting trees and the daily task of removing plastic from the beach so turtles don’t eat it.
“It feels good to help save Country. It inspires me to pass it all down to my children and grandchildren. I would like other Indigenous ladies to become a ranger to build up their confidence and to get out and experience what I’ve already experienced,” she said.
Longreach ranger Jodie Ahkee says: “Rangering as a job has been around for a while and it’s very male dominated. You feel like you have to keep up.”
And Bunya Mountains National Park ranger Melissa Brown adds: “I’d love to see more Indigenous rangers … spread across Australia with equality. Men and women working together with a healthy relationship looking after Country like how it was before.”
WWF-Australia media contact:
Mark Symons, WWF-Australia Senior Media Officer, 0400 985 571