With current interstate restrictions it was difficult to source contractors from other states for our rabbit control project. We were fortunate to be able to upskill some of our local Aboriginal rangers so that they were able to participate in some of the work on our project.
One of the requirements of the Rabbit Control project, in the Willandra Lakes World Heritage Area, was that each warren had to be assessed for potential Aboriginal Cultural Heritage (ACH). This work identified many sites and artifacts and with so many more ACH locations uncovered than expected, an issue arose about who would have the time to follow up and control the rabbit warrens in or around those locations? With all known suitable contractors located interstate or too far away to be affordable, we were not sure how warrens and rabbits would be eradicated in those sensitive areas.
It was identified that a local Aboriginal co-operative had an imploder and a team of rangers that were keen to do the job. Western Local Land Services had some funding that could be used to engage a registered training officer who could train the rangers to use the imploding machine. This was undertaken and the rangers engaged. When a suitable time is established for the work to proceed the co-op group will be able to go ahead.
Sourcing contract labour locally and even more exciting, upskilling traditional owners to undertake ongoing works is great for this project and also hopefully for other projects within the World Heritage Area. Work undertaken in this project is on country with very high cultural significance. Having traditional owners working on country on this project, helps reacquaint them with their cultural heritage and helps us to better understand the importance of this world heritage site. It gives us a chance to work alongside traditional owners, helping us to better appreciate and understand Aboriginal people in this area and their connection to country. This project is opening pathways to unity by working together.
By upskilling the local rangers we were able to offer employment to people – this was a great, unexpected outcome of the project.
By working alongside local Aboriginal groups we are all learning as we go to better appreciate each other and what we can achieve together.