Prisoners partner Traditional Owners in rehabilitation of ecologically rich bush

News story
The Wyndham Work Camp (WWC) is working closely with Native Title holders to rehabilitate an East Kimberley site which the traditional owners hope will receive World Heritage listing.
Last updated:
Prisoners partner Traditional Owners in rehabilitation of ecologically rich bush

Vast sections of the West Kimberley are already under heritage consideration and Native Title holders of the majestic Cockburn Ranges hope their land will also be included.

WWC Senior Officer Neil Branigan said the camp has a close relationship with the Cockburn Range Native Title holders and had been invited to jointly develop projects for the site.

The King River flows through this vast, pristine area, which is dotted with waterholes, waterfalls, gorges and cliffs.

The region also boasts a rich ecosystem including salt and freshwater crocodiles, barramundi and native plants with medicinal properties.

Construction of bush huts for bird watching, fencing and pathways is being discussed.

"Prisoners can gain a range of skills operating excavators and frontend loaders as well as conservation and land management through fauna recognition, native seed collection and propagation," said Mr Branigan.

Another aspect of the project involves removing the invasive Bellyache bush (an officially declared pest in WA) which pervades the banks of the King River and re-planting natives such as wattles and grasses.

Prisoners will also undertake general fencing of ecologically sensitive areas and cave painting locations.
"This is a great project for the Aboriginal prisoners. It promotes their spiritual, physical and cultural connection to the land and their feedback has been positive," Mr Branigan said.

We're also planning other training course options to enable the men to become Indigenous tour guides, bush medicine and tucker studies and ranger programs.

"For some of the men it’s the first time they've had functional jobs and it makes them feel valued and good about themselves. If they can attain and keep jobs, they’re less likely to reoffend."