Cultural Burning Program provides valuable insights

Jacquie Petrusma, Minister for Parks and Minister for Police, Fire and Emergency Services,

The Tasmanian Liberal Government recognises that Aboriginal cultural burning practices, undertaken for tens of thousands of years, have helped to shape the Tasmanian landscape that we know today.

Today I was privileged to attend a Cultural Burning Workshop that was undertaken by the South East Tasmanian Aboriginal Corporation. This workshop was an educational exercise, which was also attended by members of the Tasmania Fire Service and the Parks and Wildlife Service.

The Tasmanian community can greatly learn from Tasmanian Aboriginal people as a result of their deep connection with our land and landscape, including sophisticated land management practices such as cool burning and the important part this has played in Tasmania’s culture and history.

The TFS has responsibility for the state-wide Fuel Reduction Program, and today’s event is assisting to educate TFS personnel in Aboriginal cultural burning practices.

As part of the Tasmanian Government’s commitment to cultural burning in Tasmania, the Parks and Wildlife Service has employed three new Aboriginal cultural burning specialists including an Aboriginal Burning Project Officer, to support the development of policy and management of the program along with two specialist Aboriginal Fire Rangers to work with communities to identify potential cultural burn sites.

Recently, Parks and Wildlife Service Aboriginal Fire Rangers undertook the first cultural burn as part of this program at Dempster Plains in Tasmania’s remote North West.

In addition, to the new Aboriginal Fire Ranger employee roles, the Government also committed $100,000 in grant funding to ensure the success and delivery of this important program.

The Cultural Burning Grant Funding is to support burning related activities, with funds going towards the provision of equipment, the cost of travel to attend burn locations, along with funding to support cultural burning training.

Ten grant applications of a maximum of $10,000 each have been approved to:

· The Aboriginal Land Council of Tasmania, who were successful in securing 3 grants;

· The Karadi Aboriginal Corporation, securing 2 grants;

· The melythina tiakana warrana Aboriginal Corporation, with 1 grant;

· The South East Tasmanian Aboriginal Corporation securing 2 grants; and

· The Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre with 2 grants.

The Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service is also working closely with Aboriginal Heritage Tasmania to collaborate with Aboriginal fire practitioners and Tasmanian Aboriginal people to develop a PWS Cultural Burning Policy for Tasmania.

We recognise the rich cultural and environmental understanding of Tasmanian Aboriginal people and the importance of re-establishing cultural burning practices in Tasmania as part of our overall fire management strategy.

The Cultural Burning Program is a first for Tasmania and the Government will ensure collaboration and continuing engagement with Tasmanian Aboriginal people to deliver cultural land management practices as a pathway towards achieving joint land management.

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