$3.6M for new Junior Ranger programs in Central Australia to support Indigenous students

Release Date:
Media release

New Learning on Country and Junior Ranger programs will support young people in Central Australian communities to stay engaged with education and training, as part of the Australian Government’s $250 million plan for A Better, Safer Future for Central Australia.

Students in Ti Tree, Santa Teresa, Papunya and surrounding areas, where school attendance is low, will be offered opportunities to connect with Country and culture, while learning valuable skills from local Indigenous Rangers.

On-Country, culturally-led learning aims to better engage and retain young people at school and help Close the Gap in education, employment and life outcomes.

From cultural and heritage camps, to traditional medicine and native wildlife programs; Aboriginal students will learn traditional ways to care for Country from local Indigenous rangers.

The programs will not only encourage First Nations young people to finish school – there’s also potential for vocational training and pathways to real jobs.

The Government’s $3.6 million investment is prioritising students in Ti Tree, Santa Teresa and Papunya and surrounds is based on advice from community stakeholders, the Northern Territory Government, the Office of the Central Australian Regional Controller and the recently‑established Central Australia Plan Aboriginal Leadership Group.

In all three communities, consultations are underway with First Nations families, leaders, community groups, schools and young people to ensure Central Australia’s first Junior Ranger and on-Country programs achieve the best possible results.

Quotes attributable to Minister Burney:

“The Junior Ranger program is about supporting Indigenous students to thrive, with culturally-led and locally-designed on-Country learning activities, taught by Indigenous Ranger groups.
“Ti Tree, Santa Teresa and Papunya and surrounding areas were selected based on advice from First Nations communities in Central Australia to make sure this $3.6 million investment is delivered where it’s needed most.

“By integrating culture and Country into the school curriculum, First Nations students in Central Australia will be more engaged at school and get the opportunity to reach their full potential.”

Quotes attributable to Marion Scrymgour, Member for Lingiari:

“When I travel around my electorate the number one issue people have raised with me is employment and creating a future for our young people. The status quo is not working for our remote communities.

“Junior Rangers are an important employment pathway for young people – but they also play a critical role in keeping young people in school, getting people out on Country to learn, protecting and managing our environment and help develop important vocation skills.

“These new ranger programs highlight our commitment to getting jobs back into remote communities and helping to support our young people in remote communities.”

Quotes attributable to TerrenceAbbott, Papunya community leader

“For our young people here, they need motivation because when it comes to school – they go and then they don’t go. We want our kids to go to school and we need help getting kids to class, not just for one day or one week.

“I know the Junior Rangers program will help us here in Papunya, because our kids and our young mob, they respond to learning on Country. They come back with energy. They feel more connected with our culture, our community.

“We have some bush programs for the young ones. I’ve seen them go out and come back a few days later – positive and keen to learn more. Lots of them want to become rangers.

“Our kids and all the young people need to learn about bush medicine. Where our hidden water sources are. The girls need to know how to look after the women’s sites and make their women’s bush medicines. The boys have the men’s sites to care for.

“In my community of Papunya, we’re so positive about what’s coming. It’s giving all of us a lot of hope.”