Earlier this year, in an historic moment for Victoria, Aboriginal traditional burning practices were integrated into the state’s planned burning program.

Forest Fire Management Victoria (FFMVic) Loddon Mallee is on the Country of the Dja Dja Wurrung people. With them, we have begun a unique collaboration to incorporate their connection to Country into our planned burning and fire management programs.

While there have been ceremonial lighting of fires by Aboriginal Elders and exploration of traditional burning practices for some years, planned burns near Maryborough and Bendigo in May marked the first time traditional burning practices have been applied as part of our ongoing planned burning program. As the practices were integrated into our Safer Together program, they are now included as an integral part of the broader planned burning program.

Traditional burning uses no lighters or accelerants. Flames from a single fire are carried into the bush in bowls and with fire sticks to transfer the fire to fuel on the forest floor. This results in a cool, gentle, creeping fire that is allowed to take a natural path through the bush. Under suitable conditions, the fire will burn gently, finding its own course, connecting with other fires to create a mosaic effect.

The introduction of traditional burning was possible thanks to the close relationship between FFMVic and the Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation and members of the Dja Dja Wurrung community.

We are fortunate to have Michael Bourke, a proud Dja Dja Wurrung man, work at FFMVic as a District Planner. Mick’s work and passion for Country has helped the rest of our team develop a deeper understanding of the important role of traditional burning in Aboriginal culture and land management. Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation and PV Dja Dja Wurrung rangers have also been an integral part of this process.

Led by our Aboriginal colleagues and with the ongoing advice of Dja Dja Wurrung Elders, we’ll continue their work to safely embed Aboriginal traditional burning into the planned burning program.

Five Forest Fire Management Staff with traditional burning tools

Page last updated: 11/04/19