The Animal Management Worker program will employ fourteen Indigenous Animal Management Workers(AMWs) across three shires of the Northern Territory. The AMWs will work with visiting vets but also take increasing responsibility for animal management and community education on their own communities. These roles exist in Indigenous communities in Queensland and Western Australia and have led to a marked improvement in animal management and welfare in those communities. AMRRIC will give training and support to the AMWs over the three years of the project and is working to have the positions created on a permanent basis across the Northern Territory.
There will always be the need for veterinary service providers from outside the community to be involved in animal management. However, the AMW project aims to shift responsibility and capability back into the hands of the local community. Indigenous AMWs will play an important role in communicating the benefits of desexing and encouraging participation in the dog health program to community members.
Animal Management Worker Ashely Hayes working with Dr Malcolm Mcgrath in Barkly Shire
"It is great seeing the shift in the attitude towards the Dog Health Program - after we have been in a community for a few days and we have people flagging us down asking when we can come and pick up their dogs for surgery – I think it makes the Animal Management Workers proud to be involved in a program that is supported by the community and I think they really help build the trust amongst the community for what we are trying to achieve." Dr John Skuja
The project commenced in October 2011 in the Barkly Regional Council and AMRRIC funded Animal Management Workers have played an important role helping vet Malcolm McGrath desex many hundreds of dogs across the 320,000 square kilometres that make up the council region. The Animal Health program is ongoing and has significantly slowed the dog population growth in the communities and there has been a huge improvement in the general health and condition of the dogs. The project has also been operating in East Arnhem Land since March 2012 and the local AMWs work with the Council vet at maintaining the exceptional level of desexing that keeps the free roaming dog population stable.
The Animal Managment Worker program is funded with a $2.89m community enhancement grant from the Aboriginals Benefit Account (ABA). The 3 year project is managed by AMRRIC’s Dr John Skuja.