Closing the Gap is a long-term commitment by all Australian governments to work towards a better future for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. It aims to close the gap of Indigenous disadvantage in areas such as health, housing, education and employment.
Indigenous ecological knowledge and skills in natural resource management are highly valued by the Australian Government. Caring for our Country invests in programs engaging Indigenous Australians to protect and conserve our environment whilst providing Indigenous people with education, training, employment and business opportunities based around natural resource management.
Caring for our Country Indigenous Programs
Working on Country
The Australian Government established Working on Country recognising that protecting and conserving the environment is a shared responsibility and to provide sustainable employment for Indigenous people.
Indigenous people have long-held cultural and traditional responsibilities to protect and manage their land and sea country. They own an estimated 20 per cent of the Australian continent, upon which lies some of our most environmentally precious natural assets and, for Indigenous people, is rich in cultural and spiritual meaning.
Working on Country builds on Indigenous traditional knowledge to protect and manage land and sea country. Almost 700 Indigenous rangers across 99 ranger teams are employed across Australia to deliver environmental outcomes. It is expected that around 730 rangers will be trained and employed through Working on Country by June 2015.
Indigenous Protected Areas
Indigenous Australians have managed their country for tens of thousands of years. An Indigenous Protected Area is an area of Indigenous-owned land or sea where traditional owners have entered into an agreement with the Australian Government to promote biodiversity and cultural resource conservation. Indigenous Protected Areas make a significant contribution to Australian biodiversity conservation - making almost 25 per cent of Australia's National Reserve System .
Indigenous Protected Areas deliver more than environmental benefits. Managing Indigenous Protected Areas helps Indigenous communities to protect their significant cultural values for future generations and receive spin-off health, education, economic and social benefits.
There are now 50 declared Indigenous Protected Areas and over 40 consultation projects across Australia. Caring for our Country is increasing Indigenous Protected Areas by at least 40 per cent over its first five years - an increase of at least eight million hectares.