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Statement, Indigenous employment, Wiluna, Martu Rangers

Together with the Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister, Alan Tudge, we recently travelled to the remote town of Wiluna and then drove the 50 kilometres to the Jundee goldmine. Here, the Martu Rangers, part of the Central Desert Native Title Services, under the stewardship of Rob Thomas, provide conservation services, including weed spraying, flora and fauna surveys, environmental monitoring, assessment and measurement on the rehabilitated sites of Northern Star Resources' goldmine.

With 191 days of labour service provided in 2013, Northern Star is expanding the ranger program in 2014. These Indigenous Martu Rangers are engaged on a fee-for-service basis, working alongside environmental officers.

On our visit, there were three rangers at work, from a pool of seven, all of whom live in the town of Wiluna. Depending on other commitments—such as cultural, law or family business—each ranger generally chooses to work at the mine for one or two weekly rotations per month. It is good work and it is flexible. There is good food and lodgings and respect, and they are learning, and earning a salary.

I commend this outstanding program, which has given Aboriginal people a valuable opportunity to work on-country and to learn skills that are relevant and transferable, for the betterment of the environment for us all. I wish the Martu Ranger team well in the Indigenous Governance Awards, which are next week and will be presented by the Prime Minister.


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