26 September 2023

First Nations to protect site of first contact

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In a NSW first, an Aboriginal ranger organisation has been officially appointed as honorary rangers by the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS).

Announced by the Minister for Environment, James Griffin, the Gamay Rangers now have the same operational authority as NPWS rangers and field officers in Kamay Botany Bay National Park and Towra Point Nature Reserve.

“Appointing the Gamay Rangers from La Perouse as honorary NPWS rangers is an important recognition of their expertise and knowledge in caring for Country,” Mr Griffin said.

“As honorary national park rangers, the Gamay crew will work alongside the NPWS team on park to share traditional knowledge and techniques, and be involved in the operations of the national parks on their Country,” he said.

“This is a momentous partnership and another step towards reconciliation.”

Mr Griffin said that as the site of first contact in 1770 between the Gweagal and Bidjigal people and Europeans, Kamay Botany Bay National Park was one of the most significant reserves in Australia.

He said NPWS would continue managing Kamay Botany Bay National Park and Towra Point Nature Reserve, while the Gamay Rangers would support the service with conservation and compliance work, including in the protection of marine mammals.

Chief Executive of La Perouse Local Aboriginal Land Council, Chris Ingrey said the Rangers were excited to work in partnership with the NPWS to contribute to the protection of sea country around Botany Bay.

“As saltwater people, the protection and enhancement of our sea country is vital as it has sustained our people for thousands of years and today it still provides for cultural fishing activities within our community,” Mr Ingrey said.

“The whales, in particular the humpback whale, is a significant ancestor being (totem) of our people and to have our people trained and ready to participate in dangerous operations that aim to save our totems was one of our goals,” he said.

“We are keen and ready to work with the NSW Government to protect our sea country into the future for our future generations.”

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