Sydney Zoo partners with Muru Mittigar to employ Aboriginal rangers

THE newest zoo in Australia has set the target of 10 per cent Aboriginal employees as part of a plan to offer a genuine cultural experience.

Sydney Zoo is awaiting developer application approval to commence work on the Bungarribee Park site, which is slated to be open by the fourth quarter of 2017.

The western Sydney attraction will employee up to 120 staff, half of which will be full-time.

Sydney Zoo announced on Friday that it will be partnering with not-for-profit Aboriginal cultural organisation Muru Mittigar to help train and employ 13 full-time rangers.

The rangers will deliver cultural tours, bush regeneration and animal care, with the view of producing the most visited Aboriginal experience in NSW.

Kyle Nicholls is a Gamilaroi man who has been working with Muru Mittigar for seven months, delivering programs to schools, universities and other groups. He said this proposal will be great for all involved.

“It’ll be good for tourists to learn about Aboriginal culture and Australian history, and the connection we have to the animals and our land,” Mr Nicholls said.

“They can learn a bit about our culture and we can learn about theirs.”

Darug woman Leanne Watson is involved with developing the programs and educating the rangers. She said it’s important for Aboriginal people to support each other in accessing this opportunity.

“The zoo's going to be built on Darug land, which is Aboriginal land, and we have a strong connection to the land, the plants, the animals, people, places,” Ms Watson said.

“It’s only going to enhance the zoo to have us there and share our culture and the connections. If people visit an area it’s better for them to have the connection as well.

“We need to get out there that Aboriginal culture is amazing and get rid of some of this stereotyping, and enable our people to be part of that.”

NSW Tourism Minister Stuart Ayres said the program will enhance the tourist experience and the state tourism industry.

“Aboriginal cultural experience is high on the demand list for international visitors," Mr Ayres said.

“Australians of all different cultural backgrounds are brought together by Aboriginal culture.

“It’s a fantastic way of being able to generate employment opportunities in western Sydney, built on an incredibly strong degree of respect to an institution like Muru Mittigar that understands and works on Darug land, works with Darug culture.

“To be able to embed that into the Sydney Zoo offering right from the very beginning is something not just special, it’s genuinely exciting.”

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