National Indigenous Fire Workshop, Bundanon Trust 2018

The VFFA congratulates both the RFSA and the RFS for sponsoring this event in 2018. We hope that these programs are supported into the future.

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On 12-15 July 2018, the four-day 2018 National Indigenous Fire Workshop was held at Bundanon property in Yuin Country on the New South Wales south coast. Participants came from as far north as Napranum, Cape York in northern Queensland to Truwana in Tasmania, and from as far west as the APY Lands in Central Australia. The last day of the workshop was a Cultural Fire Day that was open to the public.

The National Indigenous Fire Workshop evolved from the Awu-Alaya speaking Elders, Kuku Thaypan Fire Management research project in Cape York along with the foresight and teachings of Cape York fire practitioners and respected Kuku Thaypan Elders, the late Dr George Musgrave and Dr Tommy George. Their work is greatly respected and has gone on to inspire communities all over the country and brought people together to learn about Aboriginal fire management and appropriate research methodologies. This was the tenth annual National Indigenous Fire Workshop and is the first time the event has left its birthplace of Cape York and travelled to honour other communities within the Indigenous fire networks. Workshop participants learn first-hand how to read Country, animals, trees, seasons, and understand the cultural responsibility of looking after Country.

The 2018 Workshop masterclasses were delivered through practical demonstrations which focused on:Monitoring techniques and indicators, ethnobotany, understanding invasive native plants, traditional dancing and weaving, sharing of local knowledge, cultural burning of gum and sand Country, reflecting and planning for rebuilding cultural fire practice.

During the Workshop and over the fourteen days that followed, 150 hectares of surrounding Yuin Country were treated with the ‘good fire’. Feedback from participants was overwhelmingly positive, with over 90% of respondents reflecting that the Workshop helped them connect to Country and community and increased their knowledge of Indigenous fire management practices. Over 60% of participants said they are likely to change their fire management practices because of the Workshop, with another 30% unsure of their ability to influence current practices but still very supportive of the rebuilding of cultural fire management. Each year the Firesticks Alliance will co-deliver the workshop in a different location to share this privileged event. The aim is to maximise the traditional learning of Aboriginal fire knowledge across Australia and to strengthen healthy people and Country through fire.

National Indigenous Fire Network 2018 Bundanon Report now available to view and download here.

Comments and Feedback (via the 2018 Bundanon Report)

Feel free to make your own comments below.

NSW Rural Fire Service Association

“I attended the Nowra workshop as a minor sponsor of the event. Not being brave enough to face the cold I stayed in town and admired the campers who stayed on site.

Apart from the cold weather the whole event was a well-run and inspirational event. It was great to see Indigenous practitioners from across the Country come together to share their experiences with those attending.

The mixture of sessions provided an education and appreciation of Indigenous culture. The presenters showed great knowledge of their subjects and it was a delight to see people of all races and walks of life come together and share their experiences.

The venue and catering were fantastic and I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the organisers on a first-class event.

There were many highlights, but one that stands out was an Indigenous attendee of middle age announcing it was the first time he had danced. Well done team.”

Brian McDonough
NSW Rural Fire Service Association

NSW Rural Fire Service

“Please pass on my congratulations to your team on what was a very successful fire workshop at Bundanon. The NSW Rural Fire Service is proud to be a supporter of the workshop and will continue into the future to provide resources to help make the workshops a continuing success.

It is vitally important to the NSW Rural Fire Service that the fire workshops continue into the future so we can continually learn better ways to manage the environment and protect the community from bushfire.

Since the introduction of the fire workshops, the NSW Rural Fire Service has sent people along to learn more about cultural burning and each year our members return with new enthusiasm to implement these practices into the landscape.

Learning to put fire into the landscape when it needs fire rather than to a predetermined fire frequency is a practice that fire agencies are starting to understand and support.

I suspect major policy changes will occur in the future regarding fire frequencies due to your cultural burning workshops such as Bundanon.

The workshop at Bundanon highlighted the cultural connections to Country and from the moment I arrived the genuine coming together of people illustrated that cultural burning is so much more than looking after Country.

It is also about looking after people and the enthusiasm and the willingness to learn that I experienced was addictive.

This workshop reached new heights in engaging communities by making it accessible to all cultures.

The learning from the workshop I experienced and the new friends I have made in this journey is something I will take away and cherish.”

Simon Curry
State Indigenous Program Coordinator
NSW Rural Fire Service
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