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Celebrating the return of traditional burning

Lily D’Ambrosio

Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Lily D’Ambrosio joined Aboriginal Elders from the Dja Dja Wurrung community to hold a ceremony celebrating the historic return of traditional burning to their lands. Source: Timberbiz

This year two traditional burns — thought to be the first of their kind in some 170 years — were undertaken by Forest Fire Management Victoria Dja Dja Wurrung firefighters through Victoria’s Safer Together program.

“I’ve closely followed this remarkable journey between the Dja Dja Wurrung community and Forest Fire Management Victoria and given the special nature of this ceremonial gathering, I was honoured to have been asked by Elders to join them here in celebration,” said Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Lily D’Ambrosio

“This celebration is not only of a story of a community-centred approach to reducing bushfire risk, but stands as a beacon as to what can be achieved when we truly work together.”

The traditional burns took place in the wake of an historic $310 million announced in the Victorian Budget 2017/18 for planned burning and bushfire preparedness.

In light of the success of the Dja Dja Wurrung and Forest Fire Management Victoria partnership, the Andrews Labor Government has since announced a targeted $250,000 in seed funding enabling Victorian Aboriginal leaders to develop a statewide traditional burning strategy.

The Aboriginal Fire Strategy will seek to restore thousands of years of land management practice with a focus on reducing bushfire risk and ensuring Aboriginal traditional knowledge is employed into the future.

“Our Elders are, rightfully, proud of the work our young leaders have done in their roles here with Forest Fire Management Victoria to return traditional burning to our lands,” CEO, Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation Rodney Carter said.

The Elders’ ceremony took place at one of the two now historic traditional burn sites north of Bendigo, the second burn having taken place at a site near Maryborough.

In advance of the two traditional burns, Dja Dja Wurrung Elders had visited both sites and granted their approval.

“The Dja Dja Wurrung people know their land best, so it’s fantastic to see this traditional land management and hunting practice reintroduced,” Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Natalie Hutchins said.