Fourteen people have become the first Aboriginal Djurrubu Rangers to graduate from their Certificate II in Conservation and Land Management at Charles Darwin University.
“I am proud of all of us, I’m proud of my sons, we’re all feeling good now that we’ve done this training,” said Senior Ranger Clarrie Nadjamerrek.
Mr Nadjamerrek will be graduating alongside his three sons Clayton, Axel and Ralph.
“I love working on Country with family, it’s great," said Ralph, the youngest graduate at 16 years old.
“I’m doing my apprenticeship, so I have more hard work to do but I love it.”
For the Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation, which funds the rangers, this milestone is part of “Mirarr Country’s vision” for Kakadu’s only township Jabiru, as it transitions from a mining town to a regional service centre and tourist hub.
“(It) would see the township become known for its research in North Australian biodiversity, ecology, education, Indigenous language, cultural heritage, and archaeology and a gateway for education-based tourism,” said Djurrubu ranger Manager Jane Blackwood.
The Mirarr Traditional Owners welcomed the conclusion of uranium mining on their country on 8 January as processing wound up at the Ranger Uranium Mine neighbouring Kakadu.
It marked the end of 40 years of uranium mining operations which the Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation said was “imposed” on Traditional Owners by the Commonwealth government.
The rangers, who are Bininj and Daluk (Aboriginal men and women), have spent the past 11 months learning to provide land management services with four training organisations on Mirarr Country.
“This means they can stay here with Djurrubu or go and do similar work elsewhere. Hopefully everyone will work on their own Country,” Ranger Coordinator Sean Spicer said.
“It was good for people to see how Balanda (non-Aboriginal) sees the importance of traditional knowledge about art sites and caring for country."
Elective subjects included Indigenous land management studies, fire management, weed management, operating in remote areas and many small engine and driving qualifications.
“It was really hard to focus on the study sometimes so this certificate feels like a big achievement,” graduating ranger Jayduk Djandjomerr said.
Mr Djandjomerr’s brother Amroh, who also completed the program, said his favourite part was training in fire management.
“I really like cutting trees for track maintenance. I feel that doing this training is Kamak (good),” he said.
Turning a new page, the Djurrubu Rangers will graduate at a ceremony held at DjidbiDjidbi College on Wednesday night.