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Shoalhaven hosts national firesticks workshop

August 2018

The National Firesticks workshop was held at Bundanon Trust on Yuin Country on the NSW South Coast from July 12-15 to coincide with NAIDOC week. This was the first time the workshop had been held outside of Cape York.

South East Local Land Services were proud sponsors of the event and sent along three staff members and eight local Aboriginal community representatives to participate and learn.

South East Local Land Services Aboriginal Community Support Officers Dan Morgan and Noel Webster assisted with the operations and presented in the cultural fire master classes on local traditional fire knowledge systems.

Healing of Country took place and a special relationship with the landscape and Aboriginal communities from far afield was formed with the reintroduction of cultural fire on Yuin South Coast Country.

A highlight of the event was the participation of the local Indigenous firestick team, who implemented a cultural burn and walked along with the fire from the first day of ignition on Sunday 15 July until Sunday the 29 July, when the fire rested to acknowledge, reflect and allow the healing process to continue.

A total of 150 Ha was treated with fire over 14 days, that is amazing when you consider there was only four community firestick members walking alongside the fire, no fire trucks or fire suppression resources to assist.

This was an invaluable learning opportunity for young firestick members Adrian, Joel and Jacob.

“It was challenging to say the least, the ecosystem way out of balance, carpeted with a continuous fuel load and testing weather conditions” said Adrian.

“Over 35 years of fire fuel on the ground surface, no native grasses to hold the moisture from the dew and frost to extinguish the fire with natural containment”.

“Walking alongside the fire was empowering” said Joel.

“Seeing light filtered through an untouched or harmed canopy to open space to provide a germination processes for our native ground covers, thick blankets of leaf litter no longer suppressing the earth and dominating landscape”.

Jacob also made mention of the benefit of being able to make connections with and learn from traditional fire practitioners from across the country.

“Communities coming together, sharing knowledge, stories and networks, strengthening culture fire alliances across the country” he said.

The local firesticks team would like to express their sincere gratitude, respect and thanks for the efforts and support towards their firesticks group hosting this year’s National Indigenous Firesticks Workshop.

There are many people to thank, those who came, supported, sponsored, volunteered, planned, partnered and ran the event. This is a big thankyou to everyone that was involved; it was a very proud moment for them and local community.