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Koori inclusion and engagement: what's happening?
Given that this Friday 13 of February marks the 8th Anniversary of the National Apology to Australia’s first people (by the then PM Kevin Rudd), it is timely to highlight CFA’s involvement in Koori inclusion and engagement activities.
First up, have you seen the new Aboriginal Artwork hanging up in your District Office? The CFA commissioned artwork “Working Together” by artist Emma Bamblett (a Wemba Wemba woman) tells an important story about CFA and our connection to country and the land. Displaying this artwork shows that CFA acknowledges the traditional owners of the land. Some CFA District offices are also choosing to run a special morning tea this coming Friday to remember the National Apology and celebrate Aboriginal culture and heritage.
A couple of resources have also been developed to help CFA members. A Guide to doing an Acknowledgment of Country and Welcome to Country is now available on the Template Toolkit. Saying an Acknowledgment of Country at the very start of an official meeting or event is a way everyone, indigenous or non-Indigenous can show respect and acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land. It recognises the continuing connection of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to their Country. The Chief Officer believes that this gesture of respect is even more meaningful for CFA given the shared culture of fire. “For thousands of years Aboriginal people managed the land through fire, as part of their culture and their livelihood. Indeed, then as now, fire defines Australia. This then establishes a special relationship between fire management agencies and the traditional owners of the land. Our common bond is forged by our mutual respect for fire and our attempts to exercise control over it.”
Therefore, it would only make sense for CFA to learn more about traditional burning techniques. Planning is underway to run a traditional burning workshop here in Victoria in mid-2015 to help CFA members and Aboriginal community members share and learn about the techniques used. As Owen Gooding, Vegetation Management Team Leader pointed out “interest in the historical, cultural and fuel management aspects of Aboriginal burning practice has been growing significantly in Victoria.CFA is in a great position to make a practical contribution.”
Another key activity for CFA is the delivery of a Koori Cultural Awareness Program prioritising those locations that have a strong Koori interface so CFA members can learn more and tap into their local Aboriginal corporation or group. Yorta Yorta facilitator Shane Charles will be out and about across the state from March to June 2015 running these sessions for CFA. Already we have sessions booked in Horsham, Sale, Morwell, Purnham, Corio and at CFA HQ. Talk to your local District if you are keen to take part.
CFA’s Koori Inclusion Action Plan (KIAP) will be launched during Reconciliation Week (May 27th – June 3rd). Further details will be provided about the launch closer to the date.
See link below to KIAP information on the CFA Intranet for CFA members including practical tips of how to acknowledge and engage the Koori community: http://intranet.cfa.vic.gov.au/mycfa/Show?pageId=intraEngagingDiverseComm
See link below to the National Apology to the Stolen Generation by Kevin Rudd in Parliament in 2008: www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=b3TZOGpG6cM