The many ‘hats’ worn by Nedlands' tireless Rangers

Published on Tuesday, 12 September 2023 at 3:26:28 PM

The question about what a council ranger does can raise a fascinating and sometimes controversial mix of answers. Someone who issues parking fines or patrols the neighbourhood for lost pets?

In reality, this is only a small part of what they do, as the role of a ranger is multifaceted, skilled and very diverse. Council rangers are our local urban gems, responsible for upholding regulations that contribute to the safety, well-being and tranquility of a city.

In the City of Nedlands, these rangers play a vital role in enforcing local laws and regulations, addressing community concerns, and promoting responsible behaviour among residents.

Recently, two of the City of Nedland’s rangers were invited by Central Regional TAFE to speak to new recruits interested in becoming rangers.  Attracted to the prospect of a career change, our rangers gave students an insight into the rewards, challenges and ‘day-in-the life’ of the role.

Every day is different and full of variety

A council ranger's day is as diverse as the city they serve. Jess and Dan’s responsibilities are multifaceted where they regularly patrol parks and public spaces to ensure regulatory compliance with a smile. They handle a wide range of tasks, including:

  • Animal Welfare: Ensuring the well-being of animals particularly dogs and cats, within the city is a crucial aspect of a council ranger's job. They respond to reports of lost or stray pets, assist the RSPCA with investigations of animal cruelty, protect the public from dangerous pets and educate the community about responsible pet ownership.
  • Public Safety: Council rangers play a significant role in maintaining public safety. They monitor public spaces, enforce regulations related to dangerous or aggressive dogs, and address concerns regarding wildlife interactions. 
  • Parking and Traffic Management: Parking woes are common in any urban setting. Council rangers manage parking enforcement, issue infringement notices for violations, and ensure that traffic flow is not obstructed by improperly parked vehicles. They are also able to issue parking permits to residents and infringement notices for abandoned stole or burnt-out vehicles.
  • Environmental Conservation: The City of Nedlands takes pride in its natural beauty, and council rangers are committed to preserving it. They monitor and enforce regulations related to littering, illegal dumping, and protection of native flora and fauna.
  • Community Engagement: Council rangers act as intermediaries between the local government and the community. They engage with residents, address queries and concerns, and provide information about various regulations and initiatives.

What are some key attributes that are needed to do this job?

Becoming a council ranger typically requires a combination of education, skills and personal attributes. Both Dan and Jess agree that core to being a good ranger is having a deep understanding of legislation.  For Dan, this is a base competency.  “Not everything we confront can be found in textbooks. By having good attention to detail particularly when dealing with unusual cases, you’ll need to apply the legislation and work through the details of each case methodically to ensure we remain transparent and do the right thing by our residents”, he said.

The softer skills are also a key asset for the role. Jess believes having a customer service focus helps each ranger navigate difficult situations they commonly face.  “Whilst our role is to enforce local government regulations, it’s a balance, as we need to apply the law yet make decisions with care and empathy for the individuals and community”, she said.

Other valuable attributes we look when training to become a ranger is positivity, physical fitness, a willingness to learn, adaptability, empathy and “having a love of animals is always a bonus”, said Jess.

Tell us an interesting story in your day-to-day activities?

For Jess, her story about the removal of a beached whale demonstrates the important work council rangers do. “In 2018, a rare Andrews’ beaked whale lay beached on Swanbourne beach.  It was such a rare specimen that the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA) contacted the WA museum to confirm the retrieval of the whale for research and display” she says.  

“As it happened, this was the same day the Department of Defence (DD) had closed the beach for live firing activities. The whale had to firstly be safely craned from Swanbourne beach towards the Surf Life Saving Club on the border of the Town of Cambridge. There was a suitable ramp where a long truck could be parked to load the whale. This was then taken by the WA museum.  It was a long and interesting day where collaboration between six different parties, enabled the whale to be carefully and successfully transported” she says.

Best and worst parts of the job?

Dan recalls an incident where he found a lost cat by the side of a road some years ago.  It seemed like a routine case of returning a lost pet to its home around the corner.  The owner it seems, was shocked and burst into tears!  She’d been looking for her cat for many years, never expecting to ever see it again or that she thought it may have met with an accident.   “It was exhilarating for the owner. The smiles and excitement when you reunite owners with their pets is definitely one of the best parts of the job. Serving the community everyday and being able to make a difference is satisfying.” he said. 

Similarly, Jess “enjoys the camaraderie of my colleagues, management and the work environment. Dealing with non-compliant individuals, managing potentially hostile situations, and working outdoors in varying weather conditions are all part of the job. However, the rewards far outweigh the challenges” she said.

In the picturesque City of Nedlands, council rangers serve as stewards of order, safety, and harmony. Their dedication to upholding regulations, protecting the environment, and engaging with the community is instrumental in maintaining the city's unique charm. As they patrol the parks, streets, and public spaces, these public officers play a pivotal role in making the City of Nedlands a wonderful place to live, work, and explore.

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