At home on the ranger program

Tony Barass 26/12/09

Be it shooting feral pigs or hooking 2m sawfish from the billabongs of the Fitzroy River, rangers at the Kimberley community of Jarlmadangah are determined to make their own way in an ever-changing world. A stronger understanding of their indigenous culture, a whiff of self-assuredness and a sense of place and responsibility are becoming the norm rather than the exception in places such as Jarlmadangah, a respected, dry community 230km east of Broome. Travis Faceldean and Justin Gray are two rangers being trained in all facets of culture – even white man’s – as other communities around them struggle for survival and relevance. Not unlike the catchcry in the agricultural sector during the 1980s – get big or get out – the finances of many Aboriginal towns across the top of Australia are under scrutiny like never before. Hot on the heels of the 2007 federal intervention into Aboriginal communities throughout the Northern Territory, the commonwealth and West Australian governments are making no apologies about pressuring outback communities to re-examine how they spend taxpayers’ money.