The (first) Junior Ranger Program was launched in Punmu in August 2015. Students have chosen to call the program ‘Rawa Ranger Program’ after the soak (type of water source) that also lends the school its name. The Rawa Ranger Program involves high school students, male and female Punmu Rangers, Punmu School staff and KJ staff.
Rangers facilitate weekly field trips and/or classroom sessions that create the space for high school students to learn traditional Martu culture and country as part of the school curriculum. Field trips and classroom sessions integrate traditional Martu knowledge, Ranger work skills and contemporary school-based learning such as science, literacy and numeracy. The program aims to improve education outcomes and school attendance through engagement as well as strengthening young people’s identity and increasing cultural knowledge.
For each school term the program follows a seasonal Ranger work ‘theme’ that is in line with activities Rangers are undertaking at the time through integrated workplans. Themes include waterholes, fire, flora and fauna. Supporting units and activities have been developed in line with each theme. Practical on-country activities include; water testing, cleaning of waterholes (e.g. digging out excess sand and dirt), learning to burn country safely, monitoring known threatened species sites using motion-sensor cameras, tracking for threatened and feral species, bird identification, safety checks of vehicles and camp set-up.
The Rawa Ranger Program has been developed from the ground-up in Punmu community. Punmu rangers have been using a specific consultative process to plan each weekly field trip or classroom session. The process is a useful tool for rangers to organise suitable activities that take into account:
- Different areas of Martu country to potentially visit;
- Specific activities and skills Rangers want students to participate in and learn;
- Elders who are present and who can impart important traditional Martu knowledge and stories to students.
The genesis, evolution and operation of the Rawa Ranger Program is proof of the strength of ground-up, ranger activity-driven programs and that there is a strong sense of ownership by the Punmu Community.