Aboriginal traditional burning is making an historic return to Victoria thanks to a new partnership between Forest Fire Management Victoria and the Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation.
The traditional burns are being conducted as part of Victoria’s Safer Together program to reduce bushfire risk, ensuring traditional burning can be undertaken into the future.
The burns are taking place in the wake of the historic $310 million recently announced in Victorian Budget 2017/18 for planned burning and bushfire preparedness.
While there has been ceremonial lighting of fires by Aboriginal Elders and exploration of traditional burning practices for some years, the Forest Fire Management Victoria initiative represents the first time traditional burning practices are being applied holistically and as part of the overarching planned burning program.
The first two traditional burns are taking place at sites near Maryborough and Bendigo, where the Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation and Forest Fire Management Victoria Loddon Mallee are based.
While anecdotal reports suggest some traditional burning took place in the Mallee as late as the 1960s and the practice has continued uninterrupted in northern Australia, this has not been the case in Victoria, where the forced removal of Aboriginal peoples from their Country resulted in the practice ending here.
Quotes attributable to Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Lily D’Ambrosio
“I recently met the Aboriginal Forest Fire Management Victoria firefighters delivering this initiative and their passion for the wellbeing of their people, their land and the broader community was overwhelming.”
“I don’t think it’s possible to overstate the historic importance of this announcement.”
Quote attributable to CEO, Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation Rodney Carter
“I regularly cite Forest Fire Management Victoria’s approach as the gold standard in terms of walking the talk of not just reconciliation, but genuine shared management and mutual respect.”
Reviewed 19 August 2020