The presence of women in ranger workforces is integral to the holistic management of Country. Indigenous women have exclusive access to certain places throughout the landscape, and are the holders of very specific ecological knowledge, including animal behaviour, habitat specifics and traditional management techniques.
Strong and engaged women rangers incorporate their knowledge into landscape-wide conservation management and ensure that it is passed down to the next generation of Custodians.
Traditional Owners manage roughly 50 per cent of Australia’s National Reserve System, largely through Indigenous ranger programs blending precise Indigenous ecological knowledge with cutting-edge science to care for Country. Over a decade ago, such ranger programs in West and Central Arnhem Land consisted predominantly of men, managing feral animals and re-establishing a program of cool early dry-season burning to protect Country from wildfires.
Purposefully designed women’s ranger programs (running alongside men’s programs) are able to provide opportunities for women in a workplace that is flexible, welcoming and culturally appropriate. Not only does this benefit Country; it has transformative benefits for families, communities and for the women themselves. It has been shown that Indigenous ranger jobs in remote Australia significantly improve health and wellbeing, increase pride and sense of self, and provide training and upskilling opportunities.
Available government funding is insufficient to meet the task of running multifaceted Indigenous ranger programs across vast areas. Women’s Ranger Programs require coordinators, infrastructure, vehicles, gear, ranger wages, training and logistical support to operate across vast areas. The Karrkad Kanjdji Trust supports our partners with core costs as they establish and grow their Women’s Ranger Programs.