Working on Country

Working on Country is part of the Caring for our Country initiative, and provides funds to Indigenous ranger groups to undertake environmental activities.

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. Approximately 680 Indigenous rangers are employed in around 90 ranger teams across Australia to deliver environmental outcomes. It is expected that around 730 rangers will be trained and employed through Working on Country by June 2016.

Investment

Working on Country is supported by the Australian Government as an ongoing program. Funding of over $244 million is available for the program until June 2013.

From 1 July 2013, a further $244.249 million over four years (to 30 June 2017) will be available, as follows:

  • $220.918 million for Working on Country projects nationally, supporting 680 Indigenous ranger positions annually.  This is made up of $180.918 million from the Working on Country program and up to $40 million from the Biodiversity Fund.  The Biodiversity Fund investment will support Working on Country ranger groups to undertake activities that will deliver against Biodiversity Fund objectives. To support the stability of the existing Indigenous ranger workforce, the opportunity to apply for this funding is being extended to organisations that currently manage Working on Country funded projects.
  • $23.331 million for the expansion of Working on Country in the Northern Territory, supporting an additional 50 Indigenous ranger positions. Separate funding rounds will be held to allocate these funds for additional Indigenous ranger positions, which are being delivered through the Stronger Futures Jobs Creation Package.

More information

Program aims

Working on Country acknowledges Indigenous people's traditional and cultural responsibilities to care for country and the importance of connection to country. By providing funds for long-term projects of up to five years, it aims to:

  • support Indigenous aspirations in caring for country
  • provide opportunities for Indigenous people to deliver environmental services that protect and manage Australia's environmental and heritage values
  • provide nationally accredited training and career pathways for Indigenous people in land and sea management in partnership with others, and
  • facilitate a partnership approach between Indigenous people and others to deliver environmental outcomes.

Program outcomes

Working on Country contributes directly to the delivery of outcomes under the community skills, knowledge and engagement national priority area under Caring for our Country. This national priority area aims to foster an informed Australian community that supports, and is effectively and actively engaged in, activities to protect our environment and sustainably manage our natural resources. The program also contributes indirectly to another three national priority areas: biodiversity and natural icons, coastal environments and critical aquatic habitats and northern and remote Australia.

The program delivers significant environmental outcomes and supports the Australian's Government's commitment to Closing the Gap on Indigenous disadvantage. Program outcomes include:

  • environmental and cultural management outcomes, such as management of matters of National Environmental Significance (under the EPBC Act); management of key threatening processes such as feral pigs, cats and invasive grasses; survey and management activities associated with threatened fauna and flora species; transfer of Indigenous ecological knowledge; and management of sites of cultural significance. Rangers often work with elders and young people to ensure that traditional knowledge about country is passed on, through school activities and back to country trips.
  • social, economic and employment outcomes: Working on Country provides real employment and training opportunities for Indigenous people, many of whom live in very remote parts of Australia. Working as a ranger provides many benefits such as increased physical activity, better nutrition and health, improved confidence and self-esteem, and a greater involvement in community activities. For more information: