The Indigenous Ranger Biosecurity Program (IRBP) helps protect Australia’s more than $81 billion agricultural industries by partnering with Indigenous Rangers in northern Australia to undertake biosecurity surveillance for exotic pests, diseases and weeds. A key element of the IRBP is capability building initiatives like the Northern Australia Indigenous Biosecurity Ranger Forum (Ranger Forum).
The Ranger Forum brings together around 300 Indigenous rangers from remote communities as well as trainers, agencies with a shared interest in biosecurity and support staff. It is the only community forum of its type in northern Australia and provides valuable face-to-face delivery of targeted biosecurity training, awareness and educational activities, knowledge-sharing and networking opportunities for Indigenous rangers.
Each Ranger Forum is delivered in partnership with an Indigenous stakeholder via a grant opportunity.
The agenda for the Ranger Forum also canvasses a broad range of issues including conservation and land management, remote field skills, traditional knowledge, leadership, fee for service work and other economic opportunities across a 3-day event.
The Ranger Forum:
- provides a key opportunity to increase biosecurity skills and knowledge in the Indigenous ranger network
- allows for Indigenous-led workshops, presentations and sessions, helping rangers learn from each other for stronger learning outcomes
- allows Indigenous rangers to participate in activities including realistic practical activities that are not otherwise available
- connects a diverse network of Indigenous rangers who are passionate about working on country in northern Australia to enable lasting partnerships and friendships and fosters pride and collegiality amongst rangers
- supports aspirations of Indigenous ranger groups and motivates and empowers rangers, by hearing from more established groups
- provides an opportunity to be on-Country in northern Australia, welcomed by traditional owners and following cultural protocols
2023 Ranger Forum
The 2023 Northern Australia Indigenous Biosecurity Ranger Forum was organised and hosted by the Mandubarra Aboriginal Land and Sea Incorporated at Kurrimine Beach, Queensland, from 17 to 19 October. The forum brought together 268 Indigenous Rangers, coordinators and biosecurity staff for 3 days of hands-on and immersive workshops, yarning circles and cultural experiences.
00:00:00:00 - 00:00:47:01
It's been a journey. It was only a few short months ago that we got the news that we were successful to host the Northern Australia Indigenous Biosecurity Forum. In that time, Mandubarra and support staff and family, TO’s, we've all gotten together and it's been an incredible experience to see what we've set up, what we've accomplished. I'm so proud of everything that they have achieved.
00:00:47:03 - 00:01:12:01
I from Tiwi Islands, 80k’s north of Darwin. Opening ceremony, like Welcome to Country. I mean that really stand out for me. That there is like proper welcoming to country, you know like proper respectful for everyone. And not only that, even back where we come from, you know, if you don't do that, something bad might happen. It was good too, that they did that for us.
I come from Warraber, up in Torres Strait.
Moa Island. At Moa, we've got, we are more or less the largest island out in the Torres Strait, coming down this way and meeting other groups or working with DAFF. Seeing how important that we sort of work closely with DAFF in stopping disease and pests coming from the Straits, down to the south.
Over the last three days, I've learned a lot, how we can improve up in Torres Strait with the Ranger program.
Yeah, the highlight is the drone that could do the AI with the ghost nets monitoring. So that was really eye opening for myself that, yes, we live in a small community but there is an easier way to get to the bottom of ghost nets.
NIAA has been really pleased to partner with Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry on this. We've been working together on the Biosecurity Rangers program for a number of years and it's just a great example of a First Nations-led approach to managing country, managing sea country and keeping a strong and healthy culture and connection to the land. It's been really great to see such a diverse group of people learning from each other and combining practical skills and experience with hearing from a number of experts working on different issues.
It resonates really well with our commitment to closing the gap and meeting the socioeconomic outcomes of that and working differently in partnership with Indigenous Australians. It's a great example of seeing that all happening in practice.
It’s a really great way and a great opportunity for us to all see and hear about the great work that Ranger groups do.
And in saying that's also for them to show the lessons learned, some of the things that they're working on right now and sharing that with other Ranger groups from across northern Australia. But also to share with agencies like ours and others who've come on board to support the Indigenous Ranger Biosecurity Program in particular, and how that's also making a difference and to see what kind of a difference that's making for community as well.
The other part is really about strengthening the partnerships, the connections, the collaboration. So that's between Ranger groups, but also Ranger groups and agencies like ours, DAFF. So it's really about that and giving everybody that opportunity to come together face to face, which is something that you can't overstate the value of to, to hear from people on the ground as to what you know, what they like about what we're doing, but also things that we can work on with them to do a bit better.
So that's really the big learning curve for me. And the thing I take the most out of this, especially in terms of the engagement and hearing the stories of what people are doing on ground and seeing some of the things that they're able to show, but also teach me about the work that they do.
I'm from far north Queensland, Cairns up in Yirrganydji Country.
00:04:33:15 - 00:05:04:14
Somebody's doing plant ID just over here, just learning all of that with the Rangers and then getting involved because we have similar plants that is growing out on our country, sharing ideas how they protect it and how they get rid of it.
As part of our closing ceremony we are holding a gala dinner and everything on the tables tonight has been collected off our Mandubarra Country, from the shells and the coral, to the sand and the greenery has all come off Mandubarra Country.
I was lucky enough to have met with our Mandubarra Elders to be granted permission to travel to the islands and to our very sacred and special sites to collect these items. Also on the tables are little hand-painted bags that were painted by our Junior Rangers at a workshop that we held on the September school holidays. And inside the little bags, we have little plastic turtle keychains that were made by a company called Zero Plastics Australia.
We've chosen this company because their values really align with ours with keeping our waterways free from debris and rubbish. And we've chosen the turtle because the Bajigal in our language is a Mandubarra totem and we just wanted all of our Rangers to be able to take a little piece of Mandubarra home with them today.
I think the opportunity to be a host as a clan group man of this country, it's very honorable and a privilege to showcase our beautiful country. Not a lot of people have the privilege of having the two World Heritage sites that meet.
So the Great Barrier Reef meets the tropical rainforest, which is pretty special. We like to think we live in paradise, to showcase paradise to the rest of the, you know, Australia and the mob that have come over from everywhere and also to have the New Zealand delegates come across from so far to be able to make that possible and to have them here is just, yeah, that's amazing.
And who knows this with this opportunity, it brings more opportunity for us to travel to other countries and other parts of Australia and things and so on and so on.