Meet the next generation of Aboriginal
north central Victorian land managers

School Based Apprenticeships and Traineeships students Ruby, Annalise and Chase (front, left to right), with Robyn McKay from NCCMA, Sharnie Hamilton from Parks Victoria, and Rhonda Penney from CVGT Australia (rear, left to right). Photo:

Robyn McKay is another of our terrific Waterway Management Twinning Program Alumni from 2018.   She recently got in touch to let us know how mentoring has been the approach used with a group of Aboriginal students who she proudly introduces as ‘the next generation of Aboriginal  north central Victorian land managers’.  

Ruby, Chase and Annalise have spent a year with Traditional Owners, local Elders, the North Central Catchment Management Authority (CMA) and Parks Victoria completing a school based apprenticeship traineeship program (SBAT).  Training in a Certificate 2 in Horticulture was co-ordinated by Central Victorian Group Training (CVGT) with Bendigo TAFE.

This program has helped to keep the students engaged in school and hopeful about their future.  For young Aboriginal people final school years are a critically important transition time.

This pilot project has been overwhelmingly effective in supporting that transition providing both skills and experience directly related to employment in natural resource management, and a qualification.  One day per week was spent working at the workplaces, with one day per month attending TAFE. COVID restrictions have necessitated online learning for much of 2020.

As host employers, both Parks Victoria and the North Central Catchment Management Authority included regular cultural leadership aspects to the program. This involved facilitating time for the students to connect with each other and with Elders. This part of the program allowed the students to interact with their culture and learn about cultural heritage management while creating networks in the NRM industry.

For the North Central CMA, mentoring students was a way to implement the organisation’s Reconciliation Action Plan, but has also become a life changing experience for staff.  The students took on mentoring roles themselves, enabling staff to learn and reflect on Aboriginal perspectives, cultural safety in the workplace and the importance of actively investing in young Aboriginal leaders as future custodians of Country.

Hear Ruby, Chase and Annalise tell their story of learning and confidence building, with shots taken before COVID. We’re proud of their achievements and reckon you will be too.


Robyn’s Waterway Management Twinning Program project was also related to Aboriginal inclusion and knowledge sharing.  You can read her Twinning Story below.

Cultural literacy effectively shared by using ‘Deadly Stories’

As a non-Aboriginal person working in Aboriginal engagement, I wanted to build my skills in culturally appropriate facilitation. Workshops and meetings to engage the Aboriginal community are often run through a white cultural bias, and don’t necessarily provide a culturally safe space for Aboriginal people. Understanding this is important to enable self-determined Aboriginal participation.