The Bushfire Centre of Excellence’s (BCoE) Traditional Fire Program has made its first connections with Aboriginal Groups in Western Australia’s South West, gaining valuable insights into their culture and connection to Country.
On Monday 22 June 2020, BCoE staff including Traditional Fire Programs Coordinator Wayne Ampetyane Davis and Traditional and Cultural Fire Officer Clifton Tjapanangka Payirntarri Bieundurry, met with the Undalup Association Board.
The Undalup Association incorporates cultural burning using traditional fire management methods and has worked with the City of Busselton and Shire of Augusta-Margaret River to re-establish cultural fire practices on local reserves.
Traditional Fire Programs Coordinator Wayne Davis said it was fantastic to meet with the Association’s key representatives, listen to their stories and discuss ways of working together.
“Our key focus at the moment is to connect with Aboriginal groups and organisations across the State to learn about their land management activities and understand how we can support them, particularly in their cultural burning practices,” Traditional Fire Programs Coordinator Davis said.
“Undalup has a successful cultural awareness program incorporating cultural burning so we’ll work very closely to support the implementation of more cultural burning training on designated sites in the region moving forward.”
On Sunday 28 June 2020 Wayne and Clifton also attended the Danjoo Koorliny Walking Together Yarning by the Fire session at the property of Oral McGuire, near Beverley alongside representatives from DFES and the University of Western Australia.
The session is part of a long-term Aboriginal-led co-design process that acknowledges cultural authority and is inclusive of everyone.
Oral McGuire, Dr Noel Nannup OAM, Dr Richard Walley OAM, Professor Emeritus Colleen Hayward AM, Carol Innes, Barry McGuire, Aunty Liz Hayden and other Noongar Elders and leaders have invited others to walk together with them on this journey around working with land and fire on Noongar country.
It outlined the importance of having Noongar-led processes and Noongar wisdom as the foundations for the use of cultural burning and caring for country, and how this knowledge can work with conventional Western practices to reduce fire risk on Noongar country in the South West.
Rural Fire Division Executive Director Murray Carter said the session reinforced the importance of using both conventional Western and cultural fire techniques to care for Country.
“The session highlighted that our landscape has changed as a result of colonisation and urbanisation but that traditional methods are still just as relevant and important as they were 60,000 years ago,” Executive Director Carter said.
“DFES is proud to be leading a Traditional Fire Program that supports communities to build local capability in cultural fire and land management.”
Wayne and Clifton will travel across WA to get a holistic understanding of the current position of groups, agencies and communities in fire and land management to determine how DFES can further support them.
For more information email BushfireCoE@dfes.wa.gov.au.