Indigenous Fire Ecology Training in the Lower Gulf of Carpentaria

Tuesday, 6 June 2017
Terrance Taylor
Marnie Parkinson

Within contemporary Australian fire management, the discourse of risk management and hazard reduction too often sidelines more holistic understandings of fire as an essential and productive element within connected landscapes. While there is increasing recognition of the importance of Indigenous fire knowledge and practices across the sector, these are rarely integrated in a meaningful way with conventional fire services. The Gangalidda and Garawa Native Title Aboriginal Corporation (GGNTAC), the Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) and Queensland Rural Fire Service (QRFS) are working collaboratively to bridge this gap in current practice and training provision.

Over the past nine years, GGNTAC Rangers with ongoing support from the QFES and QRFS have established a robust fire program across the lower Gulf region focused on early season cool mosaic burns and late season strategic storm burns. This program has achieved the shared goal of controlling wildfire as well as significant environmental outcomes through reducing invasive weeds and enhancing biodiversity. The synergy of traditional knowledge with modern science and technologies is the cornerstone of the Jigija Indigenous Fire Training Program and the basis of the newly developed Indigenous Fire Ecology training package. Trainees receive instruction from Traditional Owners on country to complete a certificate level qualifications and undertake applied exercises such as vegetation assessments, fauna surveys and reading the landscape.

This training package provides a unique learning experience on traditional Gangalidda and Garawa lands, and more broadly, participants are exposed to principles of Indigenous fire ecology that hold relevance across the country. The presenter will explore the concept and development of the Jigija Indigenous Fire Training Program, its pilot delivery in May 2017, as well as future directions.