[Opening titles: Forest Fire Management Victoria logo. Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation logo] Forest Fire Management Victoria has partnered with Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation to restore traditional burning to its rightful place in the landscape.

[Aboriginal singing and music]

[Text on screen] Trent Nelson, Dja Dja Wurrung Ranger Team Leader, Parks Victoria

[Trent Nelson] It's something that grounds us as people. The identify of Aboriginal people. You can be an Aboriginal person but if you don't know your culture you don't know where you belong to, where your country is.

You're always searching for something. And techniques and cultural identity, being able to resource those and being able to gather those and learn those it empowers people more and it gives them a stronger Aboriginal cultural identity.

[Music playing]

[Text on screen] Djandak Wi Traditional burning returns

[Text on screen] Paul Bates, District Manager, Forest Fire Management Victoria

[Paul Bates] We're in the Murray Goldfields District of Loddon Mallee Region. This is based in Central Victoria around Bendigo.

And what we're doing is undertaking a project with the Dja Dja Wurrung people of traditional burning. So, this is applying fire in much the same way that took place in this area for tens of thousands of years by the traditional owners.

It's a much slower way of applying fire and done under conditions that really produce that low intensity, mosaic burn.

[Trent Nelson] This is a practice that hasn't been done for probably, right here around Bendigo in Central Victoria, it hasn't been done for 170 years plus. So, we're actually going to be doing that for the first time. So, we're picking that flame, that light up, from our ancestors, where they dropped it. And we're continuing that flame on.

For me, that's very, very special that I'm doing it with my mob and my family so to speak.

[Text on screen] Mick Bourke, Dja Dja Wurrung District Planner, Forest Fire Management Victoria

[Mick Bourke] The mission today is to do a traditional burn. Part of doing this traditional burn is to heal country the old way.

[Trent Nelson] We always talk about the Dja Dja Wurrung people as healing country and healing the people. And traditional burning is one method of that. That's one way of actually healing people and country together.

It doesn't have to be just Aboriginal people doing it. It can be what we've got here. We've got Forest Fire Management coming in and doing this as well. So, it’s really important.

[Mick Bourke] Just take your time and let the fire do the work. Don't try to rush it. The fire will do its own job.

[Trent Nelson] If we can keep going with this and we can spread this out and we can start connecting it with our neighbours, then they can actually take it on, and we can support them.

And then for the wider community of Victoria it’s something beneficial.

[Text on screen] Minda Murray, Yorta Yorta Woman, Biodiversity Officer, Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning

[Minda Murray] The management of burning did change upon the arrival of Europeans. So, the introduction of traditional burning back into the landscape, it promotes huge biodiversity benefits.

Promotion of generation of seeds, a mosaic type landscape. Different age classes and those sorts of things is really important for biodiversity.

[Paul Bates] I actually specifically think in our asset protection zone burns, so burns close to towns, this has real application of where on smaller areas we can apply this type of technique, which is slower to undertake burning in those areas.

[Text on screen] Tony Scott, Burn Officer in Charge, Forest Fire Management Victoria

[Tony Scott] I think it'll become a very important part of our burning program. It’s bringing the Dja Dja Wurrung people back on Country, which is a really exciting thing.

And I think it’s helping us to bring everyone together whatever part of the society you come from, to understand how traditional owners work on Country.

[Group of people talking] Really not much should change from the normal regular stuff. They’re all similar.

It all fits in.

It all fits in together.

[Trent Nelson] We've done a lot of prep work up to now with all the guys working and being out on Country. And I just think that first day that we light, and we go through that process is going to be so special.

[Music playing]

We're standing on Mick and I's grandfather's Country. Six generations ago from in our family. Our old man. This is his Country, and this is his law ground, so to speak.

[Text on screen] Rodney Carter, CEO Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation

[Rodney Carter] It's an historic day because for the first time in Victoria, the State and its first people the Dja Dja Wurrung are working together to heal Country by burning the landscape.

[Trent Nelson] Please welcome to our home, home of the Dja Dja Wurrung people on our Country.

[Text on screen] Aunty Fay Carter, Dja Dja Wurrung Elder

[Aunty Fay Carter] I'm so proud of these young fellas doing this for us and for their ancestors. You can feel our ancestors' spirits. They came out. They came out of the bush to listen to what is being said.

And we've made them happy and at peace.

[Paul Bates] When we started talking about this, in our minds it was about fire. But it’s not about fire it's about the community. It's about people. It really is. It's a people story.

And I also think, I talk to a lot of people in the broader community about fire and there is a real interest in what you guys know and what you guys do.

And there's a real respect. And everyone we talk to thinks we should be doing what you did a long time ago.

[Mick Bourke] After them years of mission times and getting dispersed all around Country to try and divide and conquer, we're getting that chance now to come back on Country.

Like a lot of us mob here, like Uncle Gav, Gary, Uncle Ed, we were all put on over in Mooroopna, you know. We been growing up over there, away from Grandfather's Country.

So, by having this joint partnership with DELWP and Dja Dja Wurrung, we're getting our mob back on Country. That's the biggest thing.

And getting our mob in the big jobs, you know, up in the mainstream office.

[Trent Nelson] This process I think, young people are seeing what we're doing. They're seeing us, I suppose, as ways for themselves to find a path in their learning and their knowledge and also for their future.

Whether we talk about cultural benefits in terms of being able to go out with Forest Fire Management and practice burning. Whether it’s being out in a park and being a land manager and understanding how the land is to be managed.

They are all benefits that our young people can actually be a part of. So, this is ways that they can come in, be nurtured, and not be scared to walk into a government office because there's other Aboriginal people there that can support them.

[Mick Bourke] We're just getting them out of that stereotype, you know, thinking that they can't get in the government jobs and stuff like that.

By doing this partnership with DELWP & Parks we sort of open up the doors, you know, for the other mob to come in and not have that fear no more of the government where it used to be.

We walk together, you know.

[Text on screen] Andrew Saunders, Dja Dja Wurrung Ranger, Parks Victoria

[Andrew Saunders] It changed my life, like, I got a job with passion.

What I love. Looking after burial sites, whatever it is, to do with culture. I don't know, it changed my life totally.

It makes me feel proud and strong. Makes me unreal. My family are proud of me. I'm proud of myself.

[Minda Murray] It's really important for equality that we have more Aboriginal people and Aboriginal females in this space. It brings a wealth of diversity and new ideas and I feel proud to care for Country on behalf of my family.

I feel very proud.

[Andrew Saunders] It means a lot because all our ancestors fighted, fighted and fighted for all of this and now it’s our turn to take over and do what they were fighting for, you know, having our own getting back to healing ourselves.

Just doing our traditional stuff. It’s what we used to do, and it means a lot. Yeah, it means a lot.

[Trent Nelson] All I can say is I'm humbled as a Dja Dja Wurrung person here on my Grandfather's Country to be able to be experiencing this and be a part of it because I think it is something that's going to be, yeah, it’s going to be set in stone for what we do, you know, two or three hundred years down the track.

Our grandkids or great-great grandkids are going to be talking about what we did and how we started that process up again. That's something that I think, yeah, is really, really important, and special.

[Singing and music]

[Closing titles: Forest Fire Management Victoria logo. Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation logo]

Page last updated: 09/10/21