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Stuart Grimley calls on adoption of indigenous burning advice for Victoria’s fire management

15 February 2020
Stuart Grimley calls on adoption of indigenous burning advice for Victoria’s fire management

The state leader of Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party Stuart Grimley has asked the State Government to incorporate indigenous burning practices into its fire management.

Mr Grimley also questioned the extent of consultation the Government had undertaken with traditional owners regarding land management practices.

Drawing on his knowledge from his experience as a principal in a remote Western Australian indigenous community, Mr Grimley said indigenous burning generally incorporated cool, controlled flames in a circle shape or “chequerboard” rather than large, hot flames.

Mr Grimley vouched for the technique that allowed wildlife an opportunity to flee, flora to be rejuvenated, protected habitats of endangered animals, and prevented future fire risk.

The Member for Western Victoria said he did not understand why the Government was not looking at changing the way it did fuel reduction burning.

“The fire season of 2019-20 has been devastating and now we need to look at other ways to reduce the impact of fire on the state,” Mr Grimley said.

“Indigenous burning practices have been used for tens of thousands of years, so it’s difficult for me to understand why the State Government haven’t committed to implementing them further.

“I spent years teaching in a remote indigenous community and upon a recent trip to Northern Territory I spoke to elders who couldn’t understand why these practices were being disregarded.

“Despite these techniques being intellectual property of the indigenous peoples, there are also indigenous communities and non-indigenous Victorians calling out for land to be saved and preserved.”

In his speech to parliament, Mr Grimley noted a statement from Emergency Services Minister Lisa Neville saying indigenous communities owned the intellectual property attributed to burning techniques.

But Mr Grimley said indigenous communities and non-indigenous peoples were “crying out for their land to be saved”.

There was currently some use of indigenous burning practices within Fire Forest Management and other land management bodies in Victoria, but this was on a small scale and not widely incorporated, he said.

A DELWP spokesman said cultural burning was being fully integrated into the state’s existing planned burning program.

“In 2017 DELWP’s Forest Fire Management Victoria partnered with the Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation to conduct the first Cultural Burn, as part of Victoria’s wider risk reduction planned burning regimen, on Dja Dja Wurrung Country,” he said.

“This burn was the first traditional burn on Dja Dja Wurrung country for 170 years.”

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