02.12.17 GOVERNMENT’S FAILURE TO PROPERLY FUND INDIGENOUS RANGER PROGRAMS FORCES FAMILIES BACK INTO THE WELFARE SYSTEM

GOVERNMENT’S FAILURE TO PROPERLY FUND INDIGENOUS RANGER PROGRAMS FORCES FAMILIES BACK INTO THE WELFARE SYSTEM

The Turnbull Government’s failure to properly fund Indigenous Ranger programs is forcing families back into the welfare system.

In the Kimberley, many rangers sought positions through the Green Army program, now that is being axed, 36 people will be left without a job by the end of this month.

This is a shameful decision by the Federal Government.

The unemployment rate in the Kimberley is double the State unemployment rate, and significantly higher than the rest of Australia.

The Green Army program provided meaningful employment in remote areas where options for work are limited.

Not only did it provide jobs, but it provided training opportunities. For many, losing their jobs means they won’t be able to finish their TAFE qualifications supported under the program. Without the program, many participants will be forced back into the welfare system.

Critically, because of the investment in the program from the Kimberley Land Council<https://www.facebook.com/kimberleylandcouncil/?fref=mentions>, the Green Army has become an avenue for transferring cultural knowledge and traditional land management practices.

So why then did the Government decide to axe the program?

Josh Frydenberg, Minister for Environment and Energy said the decision was 'difficult but necessary.'

Not as difficult as finding what is necessary to support their families for the 36 men and women who will be without a job by the end of the month.

Labor understands the full value of Indigenous Ranger programs and will double the number of full-time Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Rangers.

Labor will invest $210 million over five years to boost the number of rangers to more than 1550 full-time equivalent positions by 2021.

Indigenous Rangers are good for jobs, good for the environment and good for closing the gap. Labor is backing them all the way.

This decision is a set back to the invaluable work that has been happening on country. Rangers combine traditional knowledge with the latest environmental science. Their work is essential.

SATURDAY, 2 DECEMBER 2017

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