There are just four days left to provide feedback on the Indigenous Ranger Sector Strategy 2022-2028, Consultation Draft. While Conservation Management commends the National Indigenous Australians Agency in acting on the need for an overarching strategy and supportive structures for the Indigenous Ranger Sector, we see some critical failings in the overall approach. Our feedback is a collective effort from the Conservation Management team – please feel free to adapt and use any views we have expressed here to make them your own. You can find the Draft Strategy documents, and provide feedback via consultation workshop (Tuesday 31 May), survey or written response at the NIAA website.
Most importantly, Conservation Management supports:
- an integrated national approach to the sector with regionally tailored application;
- the development and ongoing funding of an Indigenous ranger industry body;
- a commitment to monitoring and evaluation.
However, we make five key recommendations on the draft strategy as follows:
- Support the Indigenous ranger sector to develop the strategy, rather than seeking its response to a strategy developed for it.
- Bring forward the establishment of the Indigenous Ranger Reference Group and Working Groups, and expand their terms of reference to oversee the development of the strategy as well as implementation.
- Ranger groups define the full scope of factors, challenges and arenas in which they operate and within these, identify where a NIAA-supported ranger sector development strategy would act.
- Ensure the strategy supports organisations wishing to establish a ranger group.
- Improve the strategy logic and apply terminology consistent with planning standards applied by the Indigenous ranger groups, including renaming the strategy to Indigenous Ranger Sector Strategic Plan.
In addition, we make recommendations relating to specific sections of the draft strategy as follows:
Description of the Sector
- Respect the hard work of those Indigenous people working under previous program initiatives and update the Description of the Sector to accurately reflect the history of national approaches to Indigenous ranger programs.
Key Directions and Implementation
- Use the wealth of established planning resources and grass-roots ranger-led initiatives to inform and implement the strategy, including supporting the development of local plans for groups who do not have them.
- Support already established sector-wide priorities such as the development of women’s ranger programs.
- Support the development and operation of culturally appropriate ranger group internal governance and decision-making processes.
- Provide support to create a fairer playing field for the collaborations and partnerships ranger groups require, including increasing non-indigenous partners’ capacity for cross-cultural engagement.
- Rename Strong Economy – Business to Strong Economy – Diversified Incomes to recognise this can occur through non-commercial means, and explore these means.
- Ensure ranger groups are able to deliver on their basic land management priorities without pressure to diversify their incomes.
- Extend the implementation timeframe from six to ten years, to give it time to adapt and succeed, and to justify the engagement investment required from all parties.
- Clarify the potential resources available to implement the strategy.
Monitoring, Evaluation and Reporting
- Provide specific and adequate resources to ranger groups to develop and run their monitoring and evaluation processes if they wish to, and in the manner in which they choose.
- Ensure there is clarity between inputs/outputs and outcomes, including distinct reporting and evaluation cycles for inputs/outputs (every 6-12 months), and outcomes (1-5 years).
- Ensure traditional indicators and self-reported community outcomes are weighted equally with government and non-indigenous defined outcomes.
- Ensure accountability for all partners involved in implementation, particularly those that receive funding, incentives or benefit through the strategy. Avoid only measuring ranger groups’ outputs.
- Seek to align with existing monitoring, evaluation and reporting cycles, and compensate effort if there is significant additional monitoring and evaluation alignment at a local or regional level.
The detailed rationale for these recommendations is set out in our full submission, which you can download here .