Punmu rangers attend
the KLC ranger forum
In August the Punmu men’s team travelled to Pender Bay north of Broome for the 2017 Kimberley Land Council Ranger Forum. The team journeyed 1300km through the Pilbara and into the Kimberley arriving in Bardi country to be met by the hosts, Paruku rangers from Mulan community. Campfires sprinkled the bushland camp as over two hundred and fifty rangers from across Queensland, the Northern Territory and Western Australia gathered for the big event.
Following a welcome to country, by Bardi elder Kevin George, the forum began with multiple workshops being held over three days. The Punmu team spent the first morning taking the on country tour with Bardi Jawi rangers. The rangers were open and welcoming hosts keen to share their stories. The tour took in a monsoonal vine thicket where the rangers have undertaken flora surveys before moving on to a coastal outstation used as a base for turtle and dugong surveys.
In the afternoon the Biosecurity workshop focused on the help Indigenous rangers can give to Australian quarantine services and included a photography workshop, identification of aquatic biosecurity threats as well as an animal autopsy class.
The next morning, with a freezing wind coming from the sea, the rangers headed to the beach for the Smackdown competition; a series of hands on numeracy, literacy and communications games that included rope tying, calculating the movement of the tide and the capacity of a winch.
In the afternoon the media workshop looked at using tablets to make short “vox pop” videos for broadcast on social media and was followed by a men’s health workshop. In the evening the bands kicked off with dancing and conversations continuing into the night.
The last day of the forum began with gory scenario based emergency response training. Bleeding victims with broken bones protruding and mouths foaming were attended by rangers who administered first aid and undertook an evacuation. All agreed that one ranger from Mornington Wilderness Camp deserved an Oscar for his theatrics!
In the final event, all the different ranger groups came together at the central marquee for the Ranger Expo. Each team had a stall displaying aspects of their work and visitors and rangers were able to see and discuss the different group’s activities and country. Being one of the few desert mobs at the forum the Punmu team gained a lot of interest, with people fascinated by the scale of Martu country and especially impressed by the huge number of water holes present in it.
Around the last campfire, the conversation covered a range of ideas and topics including training, ranger station infrastructure improvements and attending a similar event in the future. The overall feeling was the week well spent, with the rangers leaving the forum happy, inspired and with the distinct impression of being part of something larger than their team. The next morning the Punmu rangers started the journey home tired and very content.