Joint ​Media Release

​$12.4 million for Northern Australia’s Indigenous rangers

8 July 2015

In Alice Springs today, Minister for Agriculture Barnaby Joyce, and Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Senator Nigel Scullion, said the Australian Government’s commitment of an additional $12.4 million for the Indigenous Ranger Biosecurity Initiative would increase biosecurity surveillance, skills, participation and employment across Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in northern Australia.

Minister for Agriculture, Barnaby Joyce, said the commitment, made in June, supported effective biosecurity across the north, which underpins not only northern development but the protection of the whole of Australia.

“The funding, which is on the ground and available now, is part of the Australian Government’s $200 million increase for biosecurity across Australia announced in the Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper and was included in the White Paper on Developing Northern Australia.

“The Australian Government’s focus on biosecurity is a strong theme in both the Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper and the White Paper on Developing Northern Australia. This initiative represents a significant investment in these dedicated men and women who contribute so much to Australia’s biosecurity and to the nation as a whole.

“Northern Australia faces unique biosecurity challenges different from those in other parts of Australia. The Indigenous rangers work on country and have unrivalled knowledge of the areas in which they work – they are a vital part of the biosecurity system and we need to support them to continue their fantastic work.”

The initiative aims to:​

  • provide greater scope and volume of biosecurity surveillance activity across northern Australia
  • provide more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Ranger Groups contracts to undertake biosecurity work
  • increase fee-for-service levels of remuneration for Ranger Groups
  • employ additional Australian Government biosecurity Community Liaison Officers
  • offer Department of Agriculture traineeships for high performing Indigenous rangers
  • build on existing junior ranger programmes to establish capability across northern Australia
  • develop and deliver a biosecurity skills syllabus to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

​Minister Scullion said the initiative would assist with developing career pathways for Indigenous rangers to work in biosecurity-focused roles.

“Indigenous rangers play a vital role in managing Australia’s land and sea country. Their work is instrumental in protecting and conserving Australia’s environment and this initiative also brings strong social benefits through employment and economic opportunity for Indigenous people in remote communities,” Minister Scullion said.

Minister Joyce said the Department of Agriculture engages over 40 Indigenous Ranger groups representing about 350 rangers in support of biosecurity surveillance across northern Australia.

“Indigenous rangers provide services including marine debris surveillance, specimen collection, sentinel herd management and target host mapping through fee-for-service contracts,” Minister Joyce said.

“They also provide support for the Northern Australia Quarantine Strategy (NAQS), which provides an early warning system for exotic pest, weed and disease detections across northern Australia and helps address unique biosecurity risks facing the region.”

The Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper and the White Paper on Developing Northern Australia are an essential part of the Australian Government’s plan to build a strong, prosperous economy and a safe, secure Australia.

More information can be found at:

agwhitepaper.agriculture.gov.au

northernaustralia.dpmc.gov.au

agriculture.gov.au/biosecurity/australia/naqs​