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The day we embraced Traditional Owners
The Koori Inclusion Action Plan (KIAP) was successfully launched at a packed event at CFA’s Burwood headquarters on Thursday 28 May, and broadcast live to other locations including all 21 CFA Districts.
The landmark celebration was attended by representatives of MFB, SES, EMV, OPA, Department of Justice and Regulation and the Victorian Federation of Traditional Owners.
The event began with a Welcome to Country by Wurundjeri Elder Georgina Nicholson, who talked about the importance of Reconciliation Week.
“We share a culture of fire and we also share a passion for bringing fire back into the landscape in a controlled and traditional way,” she said.
Angela Cook of CFA’s Community Development and Program Design team said the launch followed more than a year of dedicated work aimed at supporting members to better engage with their Aboriginal community.
“Koori inclusion has been front and centre of our plan to broaden diversity within CFA brigades and districts, and acknowledge the Traditional Owners of this land,” she said.
CFA Chief Officer Euan Ferguson said that prior to 1788 Australia had a population of almost 1.5 million people, and that every part of the country was inhabited with over 400 different groups or tribes.
“There was great diversity between the tribes but there was on common factor and one common land management and survival technique. That was fire,” he said.
“As CFA protects private land in Victoria, we can work more collaboratively with Traditional Owners and work out how we can help to bring back some of these lost or underused practices of traditional burning.”
When European settlers moved Aboriginal people off their homelands, their culture and traditional practices were stopped.
Chief Officer Euan Ferguson said the Koori Inclusion Action Plan can play a pivotal role in helping to care for the country – a task not to be taken lightly.
“The adoption of traditional practice as a complement to high intensity planned burning in Victoria would have a number of specific benefits, not only to CFA but for all of the Victorian community,” he said.
These issues were explored in CFA’s film ‘The Culture of Fire’, which was previewed after the launch.
Many Aboriginal CFA members contributed to the film, including Broadford Brigade Captain Jamie Atkins, Lake Tyers Satellite Brigade member Charmaine Sellings and South Morang member Daryl Smith, who were each present at the launch.
Yorta Yorta Elder and former CFA member Uncle Henry Atkinson narrated the film.
CFA’s Koori Inclusion Action Plan (2014-19) can be found here.
Photos: Melissa Lim, CFA.