BANA Yarralji Rangers celebrated the opening of their new ranger base on Kuku Nyungkal country, south of Cooktown, in August 2011.

The Centre for Appropriate Technology (CAT), has been working with the family-run Kuku Nyungkal social enterprise, Bana Yarralji Bubu Inc. (BYB) since 2008, to assist in the realisation of a range of on-country sustainable livelihood aspirations.  With the support of CAT, a Working on Country Ranger program task group has been established, that will  document traditional ideaolgy and establhish a base for seeking future funding, providing an anchor for the entire project.

Over a four-week period, July to August 2011, eight Bana Yarralji Rangers assisted a team of six volunteers to build a ranger base comlete with necessary facilities including power and water supply, ablutions, secure storage shed, a ranger office building and caravan bays for ranger accommodation. CAT and Aureon staffers, Nick Macdonald and Caitlin Pilkington, project-managed the operation.

Many members of the Nyungkal community and BYB staff were involved, supporting the team by providing a range of skills from cooking to providing cultural activities.

PHOTO above: Errol Wallace Bana Yarralji Chairperson with Steve Monaghan volunteer Architect from Engineers Without Borders (EWB) supported by SKM.

The project began in 2008 with a search for funds to establsih infrastructure on a 14 ha block of Aboriginal freehold land. CAT kickded off the process  with a planning session with BYB, establihsing processes for securing seed funding for an ablutions block, partnering with Engineers Without Borders for volunteers support; confirming corporate sponsor Aureco for the supply of engineering and construction management and attracting trade volunteers through Indigenous Community Volunteers.

The partners managed to secure a further $100, 000 from state and federal funding programs, while simultaneosly attending to a complex two year planning approval process. During this time BYB, with the help of the Balkanu Cape York Development Corporation, applied successfully for funding through the Working on Country program.

PHOTO above: Fore ground: Patrick Nandy (Nyungkal Carpenter), top left Errol Wallace (BYB Chair and Ranger), Peter (Alwin) Henry (BYB ranger), top right Hamish Banks (Site foreman supervisor and structural Engineer – ARUP).

Local Nyungkal carpenter, Patrick Nandy played a critical team role, leading construction with an ARUP sponsored employee, site foreman Hamish Banks.  Both men were supported by Architect and SKM sponsored team memeber, Steve Monaghan. A number of Aureon engineering professionals were involved during the planning approval and development period and  in the lead up to construction.

This building project showcases corporate social responsibility best practice, demonstrating the success of  a vision held high by a remote Indigenous community to  translate into action, with the support of a beneficial professionl partnership.  The corporate-community partnership was created between Aurecon and BYB, facilitated by non-government organisations CAT and Engineers Without Borders, and man powered the  project planning and construction.

PHOTO above: Fore ground: Patrick Nandy (Nyungkal Carpenter), top left Errol Wallace (BYB Chair and Ranger), Peter (Alwin) Henry (BYB ranger), top right Hamish Banks (Site foreman supervisor and structural Engineer – ARUP).

CAT worked with the Indigenous community, Commonwealth and Queensland Government funding bodies and  Engineers Without Borders brought together in-kind and technical staff support from key corporates Aurecon, ARUP and SKM.

Culturally and socially literate NGOs aided in the identification of corporate resources and fund sources,  a great benefit to the Kuku Nyungkal people, helping to shape a livelihood vision for traditional land at Shiptons Flat.

Extreme value for money, in terms of tax payers’ dollars being cleverly allocated towards a spectrum of social, environmental and economic returns is a key benefit in a project such as this. With the contributions of volunteers and corporate in-kind support, the team managed to triple the value of the project, over the original funding, from an initial $50,000 budget to close to an estimated $400,000 of added value.

PHOTO above: Walter Sycamore BYB ranger puts his back into it strapping the stud walls in place.

PHOTO above: Final Completed ranger base with ranger office, satellite community phone and amenities block.

Developing a sense of ownership and pride through involving the rangers in the hands-on building of their own infrastructure was amongst a set of important drivers for this project.   However the project development proces and the construction operations proved extremely beneficial to community confidence.  The experience is as valuable as the finished building.  

The three year term to ground break,  was valuable time, providing capacity building, mentoring, learning and community development, underpined by a tangible goal. Leveraging  high end technical and engineering assistance in a partnership of groups that was willing to supporting the enthusiasm and energy of a community,  proved to be an effective model for creatng sustainable livelihoods.

Everyone involved shared in a great time and now feel part of the Nyungkal family.

PHOTO above: Left to Right back row first: Caitlin Pilkington (Aurecon/EWB), Bill (Indigenous Community Volunteers Plumber), Steve Monaghan (volunteer Architect from Engineers Without Borders) Jayden Ross (Bana) (BYB ranger), Ethan Ross (BYB ranger), Andre Grant (CAT), Nick Macdonald (Aurecon Joint project manager). Bottom left, Hamish Banks (Site foreman supervisor and structural Engineer – ARUP), Dallas (Michael) Rootsey (BYB ranger), Scoobie (Ruby) Friday (BYB ranger), Marilyn Wallace (BYB CEO), Peter Wallace (BYB ranger), Charlene Pootchamanka, Horace Friday (BYB ranger) and Matt Doyle (ICV electrician).

Marilyn Wallace, BYB CEO, is currently developing a proposal and support for a drug and alcohol culturally appropriate intervention and healing program designed to best use the facilities in the future.  In support, negotiation is sought for an on-going partnership amongst participatingparties. There is much still to be done, Let’s hope this is just the start.

“CAT support has given us the opportunity to create a sustainable ranger service business.

This has reshaped the lives of our rangers and other Nyungkal people.

It came at the right time to give us the strength we needed,” Mrs Wallace said.