On-country cultural camps in South Australia are inspiring Aboriginal high school students to pursue careers in conservation.

Grant Type
Community
Focus
Social Cohesion
Date
2023
Partner

Kids on Country™ Junior Ranger Program is a program for Aboriginal high school students in South Australia that inspires future careers in conservation and land management. It was created in 2016 by Nature Foundation, a not-for-profit with more than 40 years of history of engaging people, resources and good science in conserving Australia’s natural habitats.

Katie Perry, Youth Programs Coordinator at Nature Foundation, says the program was designed to address low school retention rates of Aboriginal young people in the state, as well as invest in community wellbeing and the next generation of conservationists.

“Kids on Country is an alternative learning program that strengthens cultural identity and ignites a desire for learning,” Katie says.

“It works because from the start Kids on Country has deeply embedded knowledge of Traditional Owners and Aboriginal connection to country, and worked in partnership with Aboriginal community leaders, secondary schools and industry partners who share our passion.”

The centerpiece of the program is an on-country camp, which take place on one of Nature Foundation’s nature reserves. The reserves cover an area of more than 500,000 ha (5,000 km2), or 40% of all private protected areas in South Australia and 6% nationally.

“Our camps provide opportunities for young people to explore a range of new activities in a safe and supportive environment,” Katie says. They are encouraged to step outside of their comfort zones and learn new skills.

“The cultural activities enhance their identify and confidence, while the conservation activities deepen their understanding of the natural environment and spark their interest in doing conversation as a job.

“The students also take part in in-school workshops and online learning, increasing their confidence to pursue work experiences.”

With grant funding from the Bennelong Foundation, Nature Foundation operated two Kids on Country leadership programs for 30 young Aboriginal people in 2023.

“Kids on Country takes a culture first approach, so relies heavily on the transmission of Aboriginal Elders’ and key stakeholders' knowledge, stories and practices throughout its activities.”

Kids on Country is now accredited under the South Australian Certificate of Education (Stage 1, Community Program, Area of Learning Self-development). The next step is to increase the number of camps so that they can be run simultaneously across Nature Foundation’s reserves.

“Kids on Country has been one of the Nature Foundation’s most successful community programs to date because we can see young Aboriginal people developing the skills and strengths to be future leaders of their communities,” Katie says.

Read more about Kids on Country Junior Ranger Program here.

Impactful results

Making positive change

Nature Foundation has enabled Aboriginal high school students in South Australia to participate in education and employment opportunities.

Outcome

Better access to education that opens pathways to future career opportunities.

Outcome

More opportunities for Aboriginal high school students in South Australia to learn, work and connect with others, and to have a voice.

We can see young Aboriginal people developing the skills and strength to be future leaders of their communities.

Katie Perry

Youth Programs Coordinator, Nature Foundation

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