Around Australia, Indigenous Rangers are working hard caring for their country; they are looking after endangered native animals and ecosystems, stopping feral animals from damaging waterholes, performing controlled burnings. And, down in Tasmania, the locals are quietly but effectively looking after Truwana.
Truwana is the local palawa kani Aboriginal language word for Cape Barren Island. Located north of the Tasmanian mainland and with a population of around 100, many local families have connections to Truwana dating back 40,000 years, but for generations government policies made the island a scene of great distress for Aboriginal people. So when Truwana was returned to Aboriginal ownership in 2005, locals were determined to take the lead caring for their country.
Following Australian Government funding through the Indigenous Advancement Strategy, there’s now a team of five Truwana On Country Rangers working to protect the island's cultural and natural assets. And by doing so, the Rangers are healing the trauma of Truwana’s past and achieving community aspirations for self-determination.
Working on their field trips around the island fighting the spread of weeds, rangers have discovered previously unknown birds, found the rare Furneaux Burrowing Crayfish and native wasp on Truwana, sighted the island's elusive Cave Cricket and identified and reported threatened flowers.
The Rangers, led by Co-ordinator Fiona Maher, are working closely with elders to ensure traditional cultural and environmental practices are used in the environmental remediation around the island, and are using community knowledge to make certain traditional spirituality is taken into account in all their work.
The Rangers also created the Cape Barren Island Fire Management Plan in conjunction with the Tasmanian Fire Service, and are now all Volunteer Fire Brigade members, the first the island have ever had. And when you add the salaries of the five rangers into a small community, the Truwana On Country Rangers are proving a great benefit to the economy of the island.
It’s clear that the Rangers have proven their worth to Truwana and are not only ensuring the protection of the Island they call home, but also their continuing cultural practices and self-reliance.