NT Aboriginal rangers offered govt grants

'I like being outside and its even better on the water,' NT ranger Steven Dawson (right) says.
'I like being outside and its even better on the water,' NT ranger Steven Dawson (right) says.

As he cruises under brilliant sunshine around Darwin Harbour's mangroves, Aboriginal ranger and boat driver Steven Dawson concedes it is not a bad job.

"I like being outside and its even better on the water," he tells AAP.

Mr Dawson has completed land management and conservation training at Charles Darwin University to qualify as a ranger with the Larrakia Nation Aboriginal Corporation.

The Larrakia rangers, representing the indigenous people from around Darwin, now have two boats.

The group recently received a new $83,000 5.4-metre boat as part of the NT government Aboriginal ranger grants program that will be used for activities such as surveys of dolphin and fish numbers around Darwin in consultation with scientists.

As well as receiving boat licences, the rangers carry out tasks as diverse as crocodile monitoring for energy group Conoco Phillips' diver safety project and monitoring of traditional food mud crab populations in Larrakia sea country.

Larrakia man Jim Quenoy, aged 26 and a ranger for seven years, believes the Inpex LNG mega-project and associated dredging had had an effect on marine animal numbers or at least their locations.

The rangers also collect and monitor marine debris that drifts over from overseas and related biosecurity issues, sediment sampling, revegetation of land, fencing and weed spraying.

Larrakia Nation chief executive Robert Cooper said the ranger program and having infrastructure such as boats and vehicles enabled people keep an eye on their traditional lands and flora and fauna to support sustainable fishing around the coast.

"As a corporation we are growing young Larrakia people," he said, with the 14 Larrakia indigenous rangers including many aged in their 20s.

"The idea is we're giving them education and training certifications to be able to take those skills elsewhere.

There are 1000 Aboriginal rangers in the NT.

The Territory government is offering a new round of grants to Aboriginal rangers - $4.1 million to be delivered over two years for essential equipment and $2 million per year over four years for land management and conservation fund projects.

"We have these wonderful rangers doing great work that needs to be done to maintain our environment," Environment and Natural Resources Minister Eva Lawler told reporters.

Australian Associated Press