Focus Group Meeting: Warlpiri Rangers Yuendumu

27th March 2018

RangersNelson Tex and Max Kennedy
Warlpiri Traditional Owners – Harry Jones, Roslyn Jones, Harry Nelson, Nellie Wayne, Maisey Wayne and Lorraine Granites
CDU Researchers – Kamal Sangha, Judith Lovell, Andrew Edwards
CDU PhD student – Clare Hawkes

The team drove out from Alice Springs in the morning. We firstly visited the Central Desert Regional Council office and met with Allan Hawke (Council Services Manager, Yuendumu). A summary of that conversation is provided below. The survey was then undertaken with Central Land Council Warlpiri Rangers and Yuendumu Traditional Owners. AE introduced the group from DCBR/CDU, describing our involvement in NAFI and the Savanna Burning projects in the north, particularly in Arnhem Land. The Rangers recalled our earlier conversation at the fire meeting held in Oct 2017 in Tennant Creek, as did one or two of the TOs. The team then surveyed the group using the Emergency Services questionnaire.

People in the community will often light a fairly big fire (‘Signal fire’) on the roadside when they are broken down. They tend to try to get it to go in a windward direction to make it big. These fires can become an issue if the wind blows them onto Pastoral land. To their knowledge, the police are not aware of the need for this burning, they probably only see it as arson. If a big fire does come towards the community then the Rangers or Council back-burn to stop it. The participants discussed several other issues related to fire particularly house fires, land searches and flooding.

The rangers suggested that there is a need for one or two young people from the community to be employed (preferably part-time) in EM related services to help their members who get stranded and the community.

Key Points from meeting with the Central Desert Shire Council:

  • Fuel loads around the town are too low for bushfires to be a problem. There is a lot of Buffel grass but it is not continuous. Similarly, flooding occurs but is short-lived, that is, hours or at most, a day.
  • There is no FRS presence.
  • The Council have NTES/FRS PPE training (sort of) and resources, so Council staff (including CDEP) would do any call-outs if required.
  • It was suggested that it would be good to have an FRS position.