Australia’s first Aboriginal fire management course

Filed in Just In by June 17, 2021

HUNTER Local Land Services (LLS) has launched a Cultural Burn training program that teaches Traditional fire management practices and techniques to Aboriginal land management students.

The pilot course is the first tertiary qualified Cultural Burn course in Australia, offering training in both Aboriginal Fire Knowledge Practices and Western Science.

There are currently 30 students enrolled who will learn how to apply the correct fire knowledge to specific types of vegetation to reduce weed infestations, improve the health and function of native vegetation communities, protect native animal habitats, reduce the risks of wildfires and promote resilient landscapes.

Aboriginal Land Management students on Biraban LALC Country near Morisset for a recent Cultural Burn.  Photo supplied by Hunter LLS.

Cultural burns will be held on different types of land tenures in the Hunter, from Travelling Stock Reserves to privately held properties including Box-Gum Grassy Woodlands, open grassy woodlands and high elevated areas such as Mount Sugar Loaf, with monitoring plans used to capture data prior to and after each burn.

Hunter Local Land Services Aboriginal Community Officer Toby Whaleboat said the course could not have been developed or proceed without the support of local Elders and community, who are allowing the students to work on Country.

“We are so grateful to be working with Traditional owners, our community and Local Aboriginal Councils in the Hunter and Manning Great Lakes, as well as our training partners to deliver this unique course,” Mr Whaleboat said.

“The students will get access to some of the best teachers in the country, including Victor Steffensen from Firesticks Alliance, combined with local knowledge passed on through Elders here in our region,” he said.

“One of the major outcomes of our cultural burning program is to offer opportunities for connection to Country for local Aboriginal student and communities, and the opportunity to share cultural knowledge on caring for Country,” he said.

“We’re hoping this pilot course could become the model for teaching Cultural Burning knowledge in a formal land management capacity across Australia,” said Mr Whaleboat said.

Together, Hunter Local Land Services, Tocal College and the Firesticks Alliance aim to develop a Certificate III, IV and Diploma in Conservation and Ecosystem Management, Cultural Burn.

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