Northern Territory Government Newsroom

Local Decision Making: Protecting Country, Creating Jobs - Increasing Powers for Aboriginal Rangers

Aboriginal Rangers will be recognised as conservation officers under changes to the Territory Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act 1976, introduced to Parliament this week.

The amendments will add a new category of Aboriginal Rangers as conservation officers, conferring on them greater powers for the protection and management of traditional lands.

Aboriginal owned and/or managed land occupies around half of the Territory’s land mass and 85 per cent of the coastline; this key election commitment specifically recognises the role of Aboriginal Ranger groups in managing these natural and cultural assets.

There are currently around 1000 Aboriginal rangers operating across 46 established Aboriginal Ranger groups and managing 460,000 square kilometres of land.

At a national level, the capabilities of Aboriginal Ranger groups in compliance management are already well recognised, with Rangers playing important roles in fisheries management, border security and quarantine protection. These amendments seek to bolster their compliance and enforcement powers.

The amendments are in line with the Territory Labor Government's broader policy of returning decision-making and governance to local communities, so they can better manage their own affairs and protect their country and their culture.

The amendments are the result of extensive consultation with Ranger groups across the Territory, as well as Land Councils and other key stakeholder groups.

Underpinning the amendments will be a framework ensuring Rangers are given the support and training they need to use these powers effectively to prevent illegal activity and other threats on their land and achieve good outcomes for their communities and their country.

Quotes from Minister for Tourism, Sport and Culture, Lauren Moss:

“Aboriginal Rangers play a critical role in protecting country and natural resources right across the Territory; these amendments better recognise the work they do, as well as giving them more compliance and enforcement powers to better manage their lands.

“We want to work with Traditional Owners and land managers to preserve and protect land into the future and these new powers will better support Aboriginal Ranger programs and conservation activities on Aboriginal land.

“Aboriginal people have long held cultural and traditional responsibilities to protect and manage their land and sea country.

“It’s important that we work together to protect the environment and this ensures Aboriginal Rangers have the powers they need to effectively manage their traditional lands.”

Media contact: Lisa Sennett 0436 929 858