Reigniting cultural burning in south-eastern Australia – The ACT Aboriginal Cultural Fire Initiative

Tuesday, 6 June 2017
Bhiamie Williamson
Mr Dean Freeman

The role of Traditional Owners in landscape fire management is expanding in the tropics and arid zones however, similar progress in southern Australia is lagging. In remote areas, Ranger groups manage vast tracks of Aboriginal Lands, utilising fire to achieve multiple land management and cultural objectives. A key difference in southern Australia is that Aboriginal people do not own large areas of land and consequently have had little opportunity to work with fire.

This presentation will showcase the work of the ACT Aboriginal Cultural Fire Management Framework. This initiative continues to embed local Ngunnawal people, knowledges and values in fire management throughout the ACT and surrounding areas. Significantly, these outcomes have been achieved with no formal legal recognition for Aboriginal people to access, let alone manage, Country.

This presentation will reflect on the design of the Cultural Fire Framework, before detailing the day-to-day workings. Furthermore, it will consider some of the ways in which the Cultural Fire Framework has adapted to meet operational requirements, liaise with Traditional Owners and scale-up its operations. It will finish by offering ways forward for Aboriginal groups in south-eastern Australia whom share similar circumstances with that of Aboriginal people in and around the capital.