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Australian Indigenous HealthBulletin

Working on Country programme



The Working on Country programme is an initiative that aims to support the protection and conservation of Australia's natural environment by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The programme builds on Indigenous traditional knowledge to protect and manage land and sea country.

The programme aims to:

Approximately 680 Indigenous rangers are employed in around 90 ranger teams across Australia delivering positive environmental outcomes. It is expected that around 730 rangers will be trained and employed through Working on Country by June 2015.

A sub-component of the program is the Specialised Indigenous Ranger Programme, which has a focus on improving marine conservation, particularly for dugongs and turtles, along the far north Queensland coast. The program is also supporting Indigenous communities in Cape York and the Torres Strait to ensure the traditional harvesting of dugongs and turtles remains sustainable.

A recent assessment of the Working on Country programme found that it was highly valued by participants. Participants found that it had significant demonstrable benefits and felt it should continue in the future.

Working on Country is supported by the Australian Government as an ongoing program with funding committed until June 2017.

Abstract adapted from the Department of the Environment


Environment Programmes Branch
Indigenous Affairs - Centre Plaza
Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet
PO Box 6500
Canberra ACT 2600
Ph: 1800 982 280

Related publications

Urbis (2012)

Assessment of the social outcomes of the Working on Country program.

Canberra: Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities

Natural Resource Management (2008)

Caring for our country: outcomes 2008-2013.

Canberra: Natural Resource Management (NRM), Australia

May K (2010)

Indigenous cultural and natural resource management and the emerging role of the Working on Country program.

Canberra: Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research

Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (2015)

Reporting back... 2013-14: Working on Country and Indigenous Protected Areas programmes.

Canberra: Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet

This report summarises the work of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander rangers from over 100 land and sea management groups who contribute to the Working on country (WOC) and Indigenous protected areas (IPA) programs.

The report showcases the achievements of the WOC and IPA programs for the year 2013-14, with a focus on the number of people employed, the types of activities they are doing and the flow on benefits to the environment and local communities. Four case studies are showcased:

The WOC and IPA programs are an initiative of the Australian Government, and are managed by the Department of Prime Minister & Cabinet.

Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet abstract

Working on country (2007)

Department of the Environment Water Heritage and the Arts

Australian Department of Sustainability Environment Water Population and Communities (2011)

Working on Country funded projects.

Retrieved 2011 from


Last updated: 16 November 2016
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