Aboriginal teens recruited to care for marine country

THE search is on around Gladstone to find a group of young Aboriginal people to train for a great career that will help ensure the future of their country.

Gidarjil Development Corporation is expanding its successful land based park ranger program and taking it offshore, along the Queensland coast.

The group is now tapping on the doors of our high schools to talk to students about their interest in taking on a role.

Training would start in July and integrate with a student's school studies as school-based traineeships.

Gidarjil's sea country program manager Richard Johnson is a big believer in the plan and views it as a terrific opportunity for young people to learn skills, beat unemployment, and gain knowledge of their land and culture as marine managers.

The program has recruited people who are former parks and wildlife employees and they will be used to head the training team.

"On the ground will be young people in the community who have an interest in and willingness to undergo training," Mr Johnson said.

"We have got massive sea country of more than 26,000sq km off Gladstone and Bundaberg.

"We need to look after our environment and marine resources. There has been a lot of damage over the years."

Mr Johnson said establishing sea rangers was a natural progression for what Gidarjil was already doing on behalf of traditional owners with 57 parks and reserves in the region, out to Monto and west of Port Alma, and out to the ocean and deep water.

He said that with a national park on Curtis Island and with its LNG industry there had to be some impact on the wildlife in those areas.

The move to the program had been driven by the idea that it would beneficial to have marine environmental managers trained up.

"Our next step was to look at training education institutions and then at tomorrow's environmental managers and traineeships," Mr Johnson said.

"People working in Gladstone's high schools are assisting us identify, recruit and engage those students who are interested in becoming an environmental manager."

The 12-month trainee program will involve practical work experience with various employer groups such as horticulture specialists, and use consultants.

Mr Johnson said the training program would link up with relevant environmental university programs.

He said James Cook University offered a mangrove watch program, University of Central Qld has a sea grass replenishing program, and Southern Cross University offers a dolphin program.

"We have about eight young people interested at this stage and will choose the first intake of trainees this month," he said.

"They will still do their usual weekly school activities but one day a week they will be with us."


Sea rangers program

Training starts July 1

Recruiting from Grade 10 and Grade 11

Offers school based traineeships

Gain traditional knowledge for use as environmental managers


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