Strong women's group calls for more female rangers at huge forum near Katherine

Date: Jun 23, 2021

Publication Type: Blog

Subject: Caring for Country

Over 280 women gathered at Banatjarl, south-east of Katherine, to attend the NT Strong Women for Health Country Network forum in May.

Chiyo Andrews and Samara Ryan sharing their bush medicine.

The women came together with the aim strengthening a network that strives to protect country.

“We are really happy to host this forum. This is really good and important to be meeting women from everywhere,” said Chiyo Andrews of Banatjarl Strongbala Wimun Grup. 

Chair of the Jawoyn Association Lisa Mumbin joined the discussion panel.

“It’s important for us to come together, to make us strong together, share our voice and support all women caring for country and families. This is important work," Ms Andrews said.

Banatjarl is also known as King Valley and is a place of cultural significance for Jawoyn people.

For Banatjarl Strong Wimun Grup member and artist Shantelle Miller this year's forum was a chance to discuss sharing responsibility. 

"It's important for making sure the land is looked after... the whole family is involved and that's how they keep country healthy.''

The forum brought together women from all over the NT, with some even making the journey across the WA border. 

Senior Ranger Maureen Simon, her daughter Sophia Simon and her granddaughter Ashely Simon all attended the forum where they had the chance to talk about establishing their new women’s ranger group at Marralum near Kununurra.

“We have a lot of work to do to care for our country, with weeds and burning,” said Maureen Simon.

Three generations of rangers - Senior Ranger Maureen Simon, her daughter Sophia Simon and her granddaughter Ashely Simon.

The Strong Women for Healthy Country Network started as a way to connect female rangers living in remote areas of the NT. 

The first forum was held in 2019 at Bawurrbarnda, near Bulman in Central Arnhem Land. 

This year, the number of attendees was nearly double, with membership expanded to include women working in domestic violence, the arts and as healers. 

NT Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Selena Uibo joined the forum for a panel discussion, where participants called for more female rangers and stronger communication between government and communities.

"As government we need to hear that strong voice from community, particularly from strong Aboriginal women, of what communities and families need so we can support that," she said.