Oral Presentation Lowitja Institute International Indigenous Health and Wellbeing Conference 2016

Indigenous Rangers–an evaluation of on-country education and training methods (#13)

Anna Dwyer 1 , Melissa Marshall 1 , Sandra Wooltorton 1 , John Guenther 2
  1. The University of Notre Dame Australia, Broome, WA, Australia
  2. Ninti One Limited, Darwin, WA, Australia

The education, training and employability of remote Indigenous Australians has been the focus of numerous government programs and reform agendas for the past few decades. The recent iteration of this around Closing the Gap has seen an explosion in availability of training opportunities for many community based participants, many of whom are unable to complete courses and have a high attrition rate. Rather than focus on the negative of what is not working, six academic and training institutions across the country collaborated with Ninti One Limited to investigate five case studies exemplifying positive vocational results in remote Australia. Funded through the National Centre for Vocational Education Research, the project was entitled ‘Enhancing training advantage for remote Indigenous learners’. The overarching research objectives were:

  1. How can retention and completion in post-school training be improved (to improve employability) for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders living in remote communities?
  2. 2: What indicators of success other than completion, would be important for training in remote communities (to improve employability)?

In the Kimberley region, project partner Nulungu Research Institute at the University of Notre Dame Australia campus in Broome, undertook this research working alongside the Karajarri Rangers, based in Bidyadanga Community (formerly La Grange Mission), 180km south-east of Broome. Funded through federal government funding through the Working on Country and Indigenous Protected Areas programs, the Indigenous ranger teams within the region have on-the-job training and certification embedded within the positions.

Using a mixed-methods approach that included a series of individual interviews and focus group discussions, research was undertaken into the training models and approaches that worked well within this context to engage, retain and ultimately certify Indigenous adult learners in their remote communities. Reviewing both quantitative and qualitative data from the participant feedback, the following presentation provides details on the outcomes of the case study and the contribution this made to the overall research and evaluation project.