In a ceremony held at Monarto Zoo today, Zoos SA’s Chief Executive Elaine Bensted along with Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation, Kyam Maher MLC, will commemorate the significant achievement of three Aboriginal employees completing their double Diplomas in Conservation and Land Management and Pest Management.
The three employees, Leon Dodd, David Wilson and Michael Holland, have been a part of the Aboriginal Learning on Country (ALoC) Program that has run at Monarto Zoo for the past five years.
Zoos SA Conservation Program Manager, Dr Phil Ainsley has helped oversee the program and says that while employed at the zoo, the team have been working towards successfully completing diploma qualifications, as well as working with a range of stakeholders across the region helping to improve the natural environment.
“As an organisation we’re proud to have been involved with the ALoC Program. We’ve seen first-hand how the opportunity created through this program has changed peoples’ lives. We’ve watched our current group of graduates grow both as people within their own community and as valued staff members within our organisation,” Phil said.
“The ALoC team is able to combine the skills they have learned through their studies with their traditional knowledge of the land, and play a major role in managing the natural asset that we’ve been entrusted with at Monarto Zoo.
“They’ve also played an integral role in our education programs, working in particular with students from Murray Bridge High School to develop a native bush food garden at Monarto Zoo.
“We’re absolutely thrilled to be celebrating their achievements today, in particular their success at being the first members of the ALoC Program to complete diploma level studies.”
The ALoC Program aims to increase awareness, skills and knowledge, promote a connection to country and provide opportunities for the transfer of cultural knowledge between generations.
Zoos SA’s ALoC Program is based on a successful model developed in the Riverland to engage local Aboriginal people; and has been financially supported by Santos for the past two years along with the South Australian Murray Darling Basin Natural Resource Management Board.