Return of the Firestick

By Benalla Ensign

The Nationals have pledged to help Indigenous communities around Benalla share cultural knowledge of traditional burning practices to restore the health of bushland and reduce the fire risk.

The Euroa electorate will benefit from the statewide implementation of Return of the Firestick, which will train and employ up to 40 indigenous fire practitioners.

State Member for Euroa Steph Ryan said the ‘‘cool’’ low-intensity burns would promote healthy landscapes and boost biodiversity.

‘‘We can learn a lot from the way our landscapes were managed in the past to restore health to our local bushland and reduce fire risk in the summer months,’’ Ms Ryan said.

‘‘We know Victoria has some of the most fire-prone areas in the world and our community is no exception.

‘‘Return of the Firestick will share ancient cultural knowledge of traditional fire management practices to restore and manage our bushland and reduce fuel on the ground to better protect our community during the bushfire season.’’

Local traditional owners, councils and other land managers and stakeholders will be consulted on the best way to fund and implement the project in Victoria.

The Return of the Firestick concept was developed by the Wurundjeri Tribe and the Cultural Heritage Council, in collaboration with Yarra Ranges Council, and was presented to the Nationals as a project that could have statewide application and benefit.

Victorian Shadow Minister for Environment Nick Wakeling said the $28.8 million commitment would help rebuild and share valuable ancient cultural knowledge of Victoria’s indigenous people in the land management space.

‘‘We can all learn so much from the way our landscapes were managed, protected and rejuvenated in the past,’’ Mr Wakeling said.

‘‘Return of the Firestick will study the methods and benefits of traditional indigenous fire-management practices; it will train people in these practices; and it will share this knowledge and training for the benefit of all Victorians.

‘‘This project also gives a leadership role to indigenous communities, sharing their cultural knowledge and skills and delivering positive land management outcomes, such as healthier ecosystems and reduced fire risks.’’