Dambimangari Aboriginal Corporation has a new front line senior staff team – Ranger Co-ordinator Josh Vartto, Healthy Country Program Manager Kelly Gardner and Koolan Island Administrator Jillian Hunter.
Working with newly appointed CE0 Stephen Crook, the group has the task of implementing some of the key programs which will drive Dambi’s future development.
Josh Vartto will head the group’s team of 17 Rangers who will be working on wildlife protection, environmental management and ecological monitoring across Dambi’s extensive land and sea country. The rangers are also responsible for Dambi’s successful fire management program which has helped to protect flora and fauna in the region.
They will be working with the Australian Wildlife Conservancy and leading scientific agencies in Western Australia. One of the group’s most important tasks will be to help the Dambi community to reconnect with traditional country in the Kimberley
Josh Vartto has an extensive background and qualifications in environmental management. One of his priorities will be to encourage Dambi rangers to complete their formal qualifications in conservation, land management and seamanship.
Kelly Gardnerhas been appointed Healthy Country Program Manager to review the current plans for sustainable development and build the Rangers’ capacity to manage in new projects in the region.
The Healthy Country Plan is a major undertaking covering Dambi’s exclusive Native Title area. The plan covers a wide range of initiatives for the region and its people. A review of the existing plan is underway and will continue over the next one to two years.
The work will include updating and helping to manage the visitor location schedule and working with neighbouring country Traditional Owners to advance plans for paid visitors’ passes along the Kimberley coast.
Before she joined the DAC, Kelly worked for Parks Australia in Kakadu National Park. She has also worked with rangers in the Carpentaria Land Council managing Indigenous Protected areas with an emphasis on marine environments.
Jillian Hunter will play a key role in managing the important relationship between Dambi and MGI. Agreements covering iron ore mining on Koolan Island are generating an income for the DAC and job opportunities for Dambi members and other Aboriginal employees.
The two organisations have a history of cooperation and positive engagement. In negotiating the agreement, former chair person of the DAC board Rowena Mouda said MGI had shown a sincere respect for Dambimangari traditions and values.
Working for DAC, Jillian Hunter will be managing new employment and training agreements for Dambimangari staff.
Her background includes extensive work in the education sector and managing development programs for the Winun Ngari Aboriginal Corporation.