FACE OF A MOVEMENT: Victor Steffensen will return to the Southern Downs region this week to hold workshops in cultural burning.
FACE OF A MOVEMENT: Victor Steffensen will return to the Southern Downs region this week to hold workshops in cultural burning.

‘Too valuable not to’: Cultural burning advocate speaks out

VICTOR Steffensen became the face of Australia's cultural burning movement during last year's deadly bushfires.

Now the indigenous fire practitioner has returned to the Southern Downs to preach the power of alternative fire prevention.

Mr Steffensen, a young traditional owner from the Gulf Country, was last in the region during 2018, where he taught rural firefighters and farmers how to use the indigenous practice.

Since then, a timely release of his book Fire Country on the back of devastating widespread bushfires has catapulted his teachings nationwide.

"Those fires last summer were big fires but no surprise because that land had old dry fuel for so long. There was over a decade it not being managed," Mr Steffensen said.

"But the media and awareness from across Australia and the world was something I wasn't prepared for. I think that fire woke a lot of people who realised something needs to change."

Three years since he first invited Mr Steffensen to the region, Condamine Landcare chairman David Parsons was still worried his message wasn't being heard.

"We are concerned indigenous people are being disregarded by mainstream Australian society," he said.

"These are people who have expert traditional knowledge. We should be hearing what they're saying.

"We as a community don't always agree or know what to do in case of serious fire, but having heard Victor's ideas - they are the practical solution."

 

Mr Parsons took this shots of Victor Steffensen and his workshops teaching rural fire volunteers ancient Aboriginal burning techniques in 2018.
Mr Parsons took this shots of Victor Steffensen and his workshops teaching rural fire volunteers ancient Aboriginal burning techniques in 2018.

It was something Mr Steffensen agreed on.

"I've been doing this for over 20 years now and there is a network right across the country but indigenous people haven't had a proper go to demonstrate the value in mainstream management," he said.

"These are vital principles and vital knowledge that can steer us in the right direction. We've seen hazard reduction isn't working so why not give it a go.

"People can't say we can't afford to make it happen when they poured billions down the drain in negligence.

"Why aren't we investing in positive jobs growth and a growth in our connection with the landscape. It's too valuable to not do this."

For SQ Landscapes principal project officer Holly Hosie, who was organising the workshops under the State Government natural resources investment program and as a follow up to early 2020 Reading Country events, spreading the method was more important now than ever.

"The 2019 fires were really eye opening and identified real gaps about how we're going about land practices," she said.

"Being able to utilise Victor's knowledge is so important to help bridge those small gaps and encourage multiple organisations to get together where it is most important."

A Wednesday, July 8 workshop will be held at 606 Stonehenge Rd, Leyburn from 2pm.

The Thursday, July 9 workshop will be held at Dalveen Post Office from 10am until the end of the day.

BYO food drink, boots, hat and outdoor clothes.

For more information, contact 0459 655 648 or brendadavidp@gmail.com



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