Australia’s newest zoo today announced that it has set an employment target of 10 percent for Aboriginal employees as part of its plan to offer immersive Aboriginal cultural experiences to visitors.
To meet the target Sydney Zoo has today signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Muru Mittigar, a not-for-profit organisation which seeks to advance Aboriginal culture and provide market-driven opportunities for learning, skills development and meaningful, long term employment.
Sydney Zoo and Muru Mittigar will work together to train Aboriginal people for full-time roles as Rangers to deliver Aboriginal cultural tours, bush regeneration and animal care. This traditional Aboriginal experience will be the most visited in New South Wales, allowing people to learn about the dreamtime experience of places, animals and objects, as well as bush foods and medicines and the relationship that Aboriginal people have with the land.
Sydney Zoo Chief Executive Jake Burgess said the MOU would be critical in creating an exceptional Aboriginal cultural experience, redefining the tourist visit into something more immersive and engaging than traditional zoos.
“We are very proud of this initiative. We believe an immersive Aboriginal experience will be very attractive to both local and international tourists. By integrating education about Aboriginal cultural heritage with the exhibition of the natural heritage we can provide a holistic explanation of Aboriginal traditions to hundreds of thousands of people a year, and we can also provide meaningful jobs and training.”
Chief Executive of Muru Mittigar, Peter Chia, said the opportunity to work with Sydney Zoo to develop an Aboriginal Ranger program with the Sydney Zoo, was a landmark employment opportunity for Aboriginal people in Sydney.
“The Darug and neighbouring Traditional Owners of Western Sydney are the Custodians of Country and are always keen to share their culture and heritage to a willing audience. With the right training and mentoring services provided by Muru Mittigar, the partnership with Sydney Zoo will provide sustainable jobs as well as a high quality educational and tourism experience,” Mr Chia said.
New South Wales Tourism Minister Stuart Ayres said the tourism industry in New South Wales would be a significant beneficiary from Sydney Zoo’s Aboriginal Ranger program.
“We know that tourists are looking for authentic Aboriginal experiences and combining the living cultural heritage of Aboriginal people with Australian animal displays will create an exceptional outcome. I believe it will become an important part of our tourist offering in New South Wales,” Mr Ayres said.
Muru Mittigar is one of the longest-serving, non-government, Aboriginal owned enterprise employers of Aboriginal men and women in New South Wales, offering training, mentoring and innovative workplace participation to improve the economic and social capacity of Aboriginal people and empower meaningful participation in the local community and regional economy.
Sydney Zoo is a major new zoological park being developed at Blacktown in Western Sydney and will display both exotic and Australian animals.
Under the MOU, both parties will seek to develop flexible and innovative approaches for the engagement, training and employment of Aboriginal people.
Sydney Zoo will be located at Bungarribee Super Park in Western Sydney. Covering 16.5-hectares, it will feature over 30 exhibits while providing visitors with a safari-like experience. The animal collection will feature a range of highly popular species in two main parts – exotic animals and Australian fauna. Sydney Zoo will become a core part of Western Sydney’s social and cultural infrastructure, with a specific focus on jobs creation; community engagement; animal welfare and husbandry, and; education and conservation.
Muru Mittigar, est. 1998, is a not-for-profit organisation which seeks to advance Aboriginal culture, and in particular Darug culture, improve the economic and social capacity of Aboriginal people and empower meaningful participation to enhance their role as traditional Custodians of Country. Outside of government, Muru Mittigar is one of the largest social enterprise employers of Aboriginal men and women in New South Wales.
Janete Sampaio, Red Agency
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