Twelve Traditional Owners from the Duduroa Dhargal and Bangerang Aboriginal Corporations completed an extensive fire training course in June, aimed at giving them enhanced skills in wildfire suppression and controlled fuel reduction burns.
The training, held over several weekends, helps Traditional Owners meet insurance and administrative requirements for undertaking cultural burning.
“Cultural burning has been carried out by our people for a long, long time,” Duduroa Dhargal Senior Elder Uncle Phil Murray said.
“We use burning for lots of different reasons – like increasing food resources, protecting our sacred cultural sites, cleaning up and removing weeds, and reducing forest fuel loads to maintain the safety of our people during the months when the risk of bushfire is increased”.
Uncle Phil said many private landholders are supportive of cultural burns to increase the health of their land and reduce fire risk, and interest in using cultural burns on public land is also increasing.
“The amount of red tape and administration we need to do now – we’ve previously been unable to get the insurance required to carry out these burns on public and private land.
“This training we’re doing will give us the same formal skills as a trained volunteer firefighter, and this helps us to meet the insurance requirements to do cultural burning on private and public land.”
Cultural burning has been gaining traction as a tool to help Government, local authorities and private landholders deal with the threat of bushfire under a rapidly changing climate.
Bangerang Senior Elder, Uncle Darren Atkinson said cultural burning involved burning off the bush during spring and autumn when the bush fuels are slightly damper, and the weather is cooler.
“The small scale of the burns keeps the fires from getting really big and getting out of control, so they’re really low-risk,” Uncle Darren said.
“We really see cultural burning as an ideal way of helping the government to protect public land where our cultural sites are positioned close to human settlements, and support habitat for threatened species such as the Regent honeyeater and Swift Parrot.
“This training is really going to help us to continue to build the relationships within and trust we need with the Government and private landholders to safely carry out Cultural Burning within National Parks, Crown Land and on private land as well.”
The Fire Safety Training Course for Traditional Owners was supported by the North East Catchment Management Authority and Trust for Nature through funding from the Australian Government.
Fire safety training completed by Traditional Owners from the Duduroa Dhargal and Bangerang Aboriginal Corporations has given participants enhanced skills in wildfire suppression and controlled fuel reduction burns.