Batchelor Institute » From School To Country: Aboriginal Graduates Now Full-Time Rangers
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From School To Country: Aboriginal Graduates Now Full-Time Rangers

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Bungamana Gunumbarr (Yirralka Ranger Layhnapuy Homelands), Fiona Marika and Mundatjngu Mununggurr recording information about country using ipads.


Two graduates from Batchelor Institute’s Conservation and Land Management courses are now working together as rangers on country in Arnhem Land.

Rangers at the Dhimurru Aboriginal Corporation are welcoming one of their youngest and newest recruits. Recent Year 12 graduate Mundatjngu Mununggurr has joined the team after gaining a VET qualification in school, as a part of the Learning On Country Program.

Ms Mununggurr completed her Certificate II in Conservation Land Management via Batchelor Institute’s VET in Schools program. After graduation, the 19 year old was offered her first full-time job with Dhimurru.

Fellow Batchelor Institute alumni Fiona Yupunu Marika, who completed her Certificate II in Conservation and Land Management in 2014, mentored Ms Mununggurr on the job.

“We showed her around our jobs — feral animal management, weed control, marine debris, permits,” Ms Marika told the ABC.

“We’re not in the office all the time. We have a laugh and fun.”

“She was really keen, active and into the job.”

Ms Marika, a long-term Dhimurru senior ranger in Nhulunbuy, was also nominated and won the NT Indigenous Trainee of the Year award in 2014. She is currently continuing her studies with a Certificate III in Conservation Land Management at Batchelor Institute.

Learning On Country was granted funding in 2013 and began in earnest in January 2014. Currently, it is being run out of four sites in Arnhem Land. It is a pilot educational program that is designed to improve student attendance by the integration of both Western and Indigenous knowledge systems in natural resources and cultural management.

High school students can also work towards VET qualifications, through a partnership between Dhimurru Aboriginal Corporation, Yirrkala School and Batchelor Institute. This partnership works towards getting interested students involved in work experience with rangers on country and assists with building cultural and environment knowledge.

Batchelor Institute Lecturer in Conservation and Land Management Cheryl O’dwyer taught both students and saw the positive results of the program first hand.

“Seeing students flourish is a great reward for me as a lecturer; working with these students and seeing how they continue to grow,” said Mrs O’Dwyer.

“It is also a great confidence booster for the students to complete their qualification, and then being continuously supported by their employer to achieve.  Graduating is not an ending, it is only the beginning.”


Batchelor Institute Graduation with Katrina Hudson (Yirrkala Senior Teacher), Mundatjngu Mununggurr, Lecturer Cheryl O’Dwyer, Gutingarra Yunupingu, Jonathon Wearne (Learning on Country Co-ordinator), Grace Wunungmurra (Dhimurru Ranger) and Anthony Crafter (Dhimurru Ranger)


Ms Mununggurr was one of the first graduates to come out of this agreement. Her fellow classmate Gutingarra Yunupingu, who also finished Year 12 last year with a Certificate II in Conservation Land Management, has gone on to full-time employment as a videographer at the Yirrkala Arts Center.

Mr Yunupingu is also believed to be the first Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander person with profound deafness to complete Year 12 in the Northern Territory and uses a combination of Indigenous sign language and AUSLAN to communicate.