Aboriginal Cultural Burning in the Spotlight
The Yellomundee Firesticks event was hosted by Greater Sydney Local Land Services in partnership with Darug Tribal Aboriginal Corporation and NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service (NPWS).
Koori Country Firesticks Aboriginal Corporation also provided support with experienced Cultural Fire Practitioners. The Cultural event highlighted the value of traditional Aboriginal Cultural burning to protect and preserve Aboriginal Country and sites.
Around 150 people turned out across the three days to hear from Cultural Fire Practitioners and observe a Cultural burn at Shaws Creek Aboriginal Place in Yellomundee Regional Park.
Greater Sydney Local Land Services Aboriginal Communities Officer, Den Barber, said the Yellomundee Firesticks Cultural Burn project aims to engage and empower local Aboriginal communities to help revive the traditional practice of cultural burning as part of caring for Country.
“As a declared Aboriginal Place within NSW National Parks, the Darug Aboriginal community considered Shaws Creek a more than appropriate spot for this event,” he said.
“Yellomundee Firesticks has been recognised as a best practice, Aboriginal Community led cultural program supported by Greater Sydney LLS.
“The project is about sharing traditional knowledge and skills in a cultural setting of mutual respect between the traditional Aboriginal custodians, other Aboriginal people and non-Aboriginal people.”
Mr Barber said attendees ranged from the descendants of the Traditional Aboriginal Custodians, NPWS, the Yarramundi Brigade of the NSW RFS and other government agency staff to community members and their children.
Participant Edgar Greste described the experience as “profoundly moving.”
“I have no active connection with Aboriginal community…I didn’t know what to expect and was profoundly moved by the welcome I received along with my wife and two kids (3 and 7). We especially appreciated the strong encouragement to bring kids along. That means a lot to us and speaks volumes to the importance of knowledge sharing amongst the community.
“It truly was a special experience that has left a profound impact on our whole family,” he said.
Cultural burning describes practices developed by Aboriginal people to enhance the health of the land and its people using what has been described as the ‘right fire’ for Country. It can include burning (or prevention of burning) for the health of particular plants, animals and country. It may involve patch burning to create different fire intervals or can be used specifically for fuel and hazard reduction purposes. The ‘right fire’ may also be used to gain better access to country, clean up important sites and pathways or maintain cultural responsibilities.
“This event highlights the benefits of how and why Aboriginal people carry out land management through application of Traditional Cultural Knowledge and encourage collaboration between government and community to ensure this fire practice remains in place for future generations,” Mr Barger said.
“I would like to sincerely thanks National Parks and Wildlife, the Rural Fire Service and all the agencies who supported this initiative.”
Mr Barber said the forum was one of a series of projects funded through Greater Sydney Local Land Services and supported by the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program to promote and preserve commitment to Aboriginal culture, communities and Country throughout the region.
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