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Meet Werribee Park’s New Trainee Manager

Nay Kaw

In 2019, Nay Kaw, along with his parents and four siblings, arrived in Melbourne, marking the beginning of a new chapter in their lives. After completing his education at Laverton P-12 College, where he mastered English, Nay Kaw embarked on a career at a local cabinet-making factory. His journey took a significant turn when he learned about the open trainee ranger program at Werribee Park through a community connection.

Nay Kaw recounted the pivotal conversation that led him to pursue the opportunity. “One of the uncles told me they needed an apprentice here, and I was very interested in the idea of it when I heard about it,” he shared. The encouragement from a community member, combined with his own interest in gardening, propelled Nay Kaw to seize the opportunity to work at Werribee Park. Just a month after hearing about the program, he started his new role.

Despite the stark contrast between his current environment and his childhood surroundings, Nay Kaw finds himself immersed in Karen culture daily. With approximately 3,000 people in the Wyndham area speaking Karen at home, according to the 2021 Census, Werribee Park has become a cultural hub for the Karen community in Melbourne’s west.

The community vegetable garden at Werribee Park, initiated in 2012, serves as a gathering place for the Karen elders, where they share traditional dishes and interact with Parks Victoria staff. The park also hosts the Melbourne Karen community’s New Year celebrations, attracting over 1,500 attendees this year for an event filled with traditional food, crafts, song, and dance.

Nay Kaw’s training at Werribee Park is under the guidance of experienced Parks Victoria rangers, including Karen youth leader Hsar Ju, Victoria’s first ranger with a refugee background since 2016. Hsar highlighted the comprehensive horticultural skills Nay Kaw will acquire, ranging from propagation techniques to planting seeds.

James Brincat, the Werribee Plains Area Chief Ranger, praised Nay Kaw’s quick adaptation and enthusiasm. “The local Werribee team was very excited to see a new apprentice drive through the front gate,” James remarked, indicating the positive impact Nay Kaw has already made.

Currently, Nay Kaw’s responsibilities include maintaining the Werribee Park gardens, where he engages in various tasks such as watering, mowing, and assisting volunteers. He expressed his admiration for the park’s beauty and the camaraderie among the staff.

In addition to his duties, Nay Kaw hopes to spot the elusive Werribee River platypus, a rare sight even for those who have been at the park for years. “I’ve only been here two months, so I haven’t seen the platypus yet. Hsar has been here for much longer and only seen it twice, so I really hope to see it one day,” he said with anticipation.

Nay Kaw’s journey from a newcomer in Melbourne to a trainee ranger at Werribee Park underscores the enriching blend of personal growth and cultural connection, reflecting the diverse fabric of the community in Melbourne’s west.

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