Ricky Archer becomes first Indigenous Director of National Parks

Mar 19, 2024

Ronald ‘Ricky’ Archer has been announced as the new director of National Parks, including Kakadu and Uluru.(Supplied: Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water)

Ricky Archer, a former ranger and Djungan man from the Western Tablelands region of North Queensland has made history as the first First Nations man to take on the role of Director of National Parks (DCCEEW), now based in Darwin, Northern Territory.

Since stepping into the role in late November, he has been busy, “It’s been a whirlwind start but a good one,” Ricky said.

“I have met with Kakadu’s Traditional Owners and the Board of Management, attended the Booderee National Park Joint Board of Management meeting, and met many Booderee staff and members of the Wreck Bay Aboriginal community.

“I’ve also visited the Australian National Botanic Gardens in Canberra and seen the excellent work staff are doing there to manage the largest living collection of native Australian flora.

“This month I’m also travelling to Norfolk Island to meet the teams managing the national park and adjacent marine park.

“I have quickly learned that Parks Australia staff are some of the most committed and genuinely passionate people. They care about the environment, First Nations people and Country.”

The DNP has a broad remit with national parks in the Northern Territory, on the New South Wales coast, on Norfolk Island and on Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean. There is also the Australian National Botanic Gardens, and the vast Australian Marine Parks estate.

Ricky is taking time to listen to Parks Australia staff and learn from them.

“We have an amazing opportunity to make a greater impact in the way we manage our natural and cultural resources while supporting and strengthening the skills and expertise of our stakeholders such as rangers, Parks Australia staff, First Nations peoples, community, and the conservation sector.”

“I am honoured to continue our efforts in managing and protecting our national parks and marine parks for the benefit of all Australians. And, as the inaugural First Nations man to hold this position, I look forward to supporting and strengthening the role of Traditional Custodians in caring for Country in partnership with Parks Australia.”

Three of the national parks — Booderee, Kakadu, and Uluṟu-Kata Tjuṯa — are Aboriginal land, leased to the Commonwealth and jointly-managed with their Traditional Owners. The Director of National Parks is entrusted to care for Country on behalf of, and in collaboration with Traditional Owners.

“Traditional Owners have a unique connection to Country. Their knowledge and perspectives, formed over many thousands of years, are important to the way that parks and reserves are managed.

“Joint management is about Traditional Owners and Parks Australia working together, solving problems, sharing decision-making and exchanging knowledge, skills, and information,” Ricky said.

Previously, Ricky was the Chief Executive Officer of the North Australian Indigenous Land and Sea Management Alliance. He has been engaged with the Indigenous Advisory Committee since 2014, providing advice to the Minister on the operation of the EPBC Act, taking into account the significance of Indigenous peoples’ knowledge of the management of land and the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity.

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