ACT News


ACT's first Aboriginal Green Army a success, but no ongoing funding

The ACT's first Aboriginal Green Army is proving a great success but without ongoing funding it's winning formula may never be replicated.

The team is one of the last coordinated under the federal program launched by the Abbott government, but with the scheme now axed and funding streams dry conservations groups are feeling as though a good thing will soon be lost.

Southern ACT Catchment Group coordinator Martine Franco said pairing employment opportunity with cultural learning in the natural landscape was a "perfect marriage".

"There isn't a lot of easy opportunities and training for aboriginal people in this area, particularly on working on country," she said.

"Working with aboriginal people gives us quite a deep understanding of our landscape and a different perspective and connection to our natural environments."

Eight of the team of nine 17-24 year olds are of indigenous background.


On Wednesday they visited a site in Theodore and learnt about traditional grinding grooves and how they were used to crush food and make tools from Ngunnawal elder Wally Bell.

Roszanna Madden, 18, hopes to forge a career in land management and appreciated absorbing a greater understanding of traditional lore.

"Learning about culture is really important to me because I didn't grow up with that a lot as a child," she said. "It's important to me to learn about culture and the land and landcare. I'd love to share that with other people. Seeing Wally doing that is pretty cool and something I want to have a go at."

The teams will wrap indigenous cultural activities with conservation efforts such as weed management, rubbish pick up, erosion control and pest control.

Ms Franco said each Green Army team required than $100,000 funding to cover the costs of insurance, uniforms, participants pay and coordinators fees.

Finding greener pastures for funding is a big challenge ahead.

"We think it is a model we can develop a new program around," she said.

"We hope there is a future in the kind of activity where the funding comes from and what it looks like is not clear but this is something we want to do more often."