Assessment of the social outcomes of the Working on Country program

29 May 2012

Prepared by Urbis Pty Ltd social researchers, this report documents findings from research undertaken to assess the social outcomes of the Working on Country program and complementary Indigenous natural and cultural resource management programs. This study found that the social outcomes are diverse, wide-ranging and interconnected and can be categorised according to health and wellbeing, economic, cultural and educational outcomes for the individual rangers, their families and communities.

The Working on Country program was found to have a range benefits, including that the program:

  • acts as a catalyst for social, cultural and economic change for whole communities.
  • occupies a unique space in which the aspirations of Indigenous communities intersect with those of the Australian Government.
  • has a partnership model which fosters new and improved relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous organisations.
  • engages people in meaningful and fulfilling employment, with rangers having opportunities for self-improvement and career development.
  • builds a foundation for individual social development extending to entire communities. Rangers feel an improved sense of self including increased pride, self-esteem, confidence, hope, and happiness and act as role models for family members.

This report documents findings from research undertaken by Urbis to assess the social outcomes of Working on Country (WoC).

WoC is an Australian Government program that provides employment and training opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples living in regional and remote Australia to undertake natural resource management (NRM) work that aligns with Australian Government and local community environmental and cultural priorities. The program aims to employ and train over 690 rangers by June 2013, with this target growing to 730 rangers by June 2016.

This research was prepared for the Australian Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (SEWPaC or the Department) to provide an independent demonstration of the social value and achievements of WoC and complementary Indigenous NRM programs, and to establish an assessment framework for future studies.

Authors: Roberta Ryan, Dr Ania Wilczynski and Sam Ryan Watkins


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