Indigenous rangers dive deep into reef care on Sea Country

Minister for the Environment and the Great Barrier Reef and Minister for Science and Youth Affairs The Honourable Meaghan Scanlon

Indigenous ranger Simon Muriata

Indigenous rangers from Great Barrier Reef have been given the chance to learn how to scuba dive and gain hands-on experience caring for the Great Barrier Reef thanks to the Reef Joint Field Management Program, jointly funded by the Queensland and Australian Governments.

Minister for the Environment and the Great Barrier Reef Meaghan Scanlon said to date, 16 Indigenous rangers from 10 Traditional Owner groups had undertaken diver training with tourism operator Experience Co on Gunggandji and Yirrganydji Sea Country in Cairns, as part of the program.

“First Nations communities have been the custodians of their Country for more than 50,000 years – including on the Great Barrier Reef,” Minister Scanlon said.

“It’s only right that we continue to support opportunities for First Nations Peoples to care for Country and support their ambitions.

“Their efforts together with the efforts of the Queensland and Australian governments, and our broader community are helping to protect the reef, the 60,000 good jobs that rely on it and our lifestyle.

“As a government we take our responsibility to the reef seriously. We’ve invested close to $1 billion to protect the reef since 2015, and we’ll continue to do so by continuing to rollout our $270 million commitment made last budget.

“The open water and advanced diver training provided under the Reef Joint field Management Program starts Indigenous rangers on a journey to be able to conduct in-water works on Sea Country such as Reef Health and Impact Surveys, reef rehabilitation, crown-of-thorns starfish surveillance and visitor infrastructure maintenance.”

Commonwealth Minister for the Environment Tanya Plibersek said it was exciting to see the rangers getting the diving licences they needed to be able to do hands-on management of the Great Barrier Reef.

“The diving skills learnt by the rangers during diver training will evolve into future opportunities – including future job opportunities. For some, this was the first time they had ever been scuba diving,” Minister Plibersek said.

“But most importantly, it means that our First Nations Rangers have the skills needed to manage their Sea Country into the future, in partnership with government.

“We have promised to double to number of indigenous rangers to 3,800 – they’re doing amazing work and we want to see more of them.

Diver training has been held throughout the year in coordination with the Queensland Indigenous Land and Sea Ranger Program, with four more Indigenous rangers learning how to dive off the coast of Cairns today and tomorrow.

Indigenous ranger Brody Gray from Gunggandji-Mandingalbay Yidinji PBC said for him, the best part of the training was the experience of meeting and getting to know other Indigenous rangers.

“The whole course was great, it was the first time I had been scuba diving and getting in the water with other Indigenous rangers was a fantastic experience” Brody said.

“I’m hoping to use the skills I’ve learnt to help to manage our Sea Country”

The Reef Joint Field Management Program is run in partnership by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service.

The Program is committed to strengthening and enriching partnerships with First Nations people.

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