Local Land Services NSW has long been passionate about supporting Aboriginal people to care for Country through Aboriginal Elders sharing their traditional land management and ecological knowledge with the younger members of their community. Recently, Hunter Local Land Services approached the Centre for Advanced Training Systems (ATS) to explore the possibility of creating an interactive program to increase awareness about cultural burning.
Senior Land Service Officer Toby Whaleboat approached the Centre with a vision of how to increase awareness and create a deeper understanding for both trainees and the general public about cultural burning practices. The project will involve a close collaboration between Hunter Local Land Services, the Centre for Advanced Training Systems and key local stakeholders including Local Aboriginal Land Councils.
Cultural burning refers to the traditional Aboriginal practice of using burning methods to improve the health of the land and its people. It can include burning or the prevention of burning to improve the health of specific native plants and animals in bushland. The relevance of these approaches have been highlighted by the recent catastrophic bushfires.
Speaking about the project, Toby says “We see the project as important because there have been increased interest from the wider community about Cultural Burns and how the techniques could better manage our landscapes. This project will assist in increasing the awareness of Cultural Burns and suggesting how we can work with and support our Aboriginal communities as they lead the way with Cultural Fire knowledge developed over thousands of years to assist the wider community to better understand and look after country”. ATS Director Professor Rohan Walker agrees, saying “We are proud to be helping Local Land Services to achieve their vision of transforming how we transfer and increase awareness around the practice of Cultural Burning. It is a fantastic initiative.”
As the first step in the project, ATS members Dr Steven Maltby and Dr Murielle Kluge were recently hosted on-site in Blacksmith by Kentan Proctor, on behalf of the Bahtabah Local Aboriginal Land Council landowners. While on site, they captured images and video to document the effects of a burn conducted in 2019, and to understand logistics for a planned future burn. The planned burn will also be documented to include in the educational resource.
As the project continues, audio-visual content will be developed to be viewed in a virtual reality headset. This will provide an immersive and engaging educational tool that can be used to promote awareness and support training. ATS looks forward to providing updates on the project as it progresses and to working with local communities to inform development.
The ATS respectfully acknowledges the traditional custodians: the Awabakal people on whose traditional land the visited site is located and acknowledge the Bahtabah Local Aboriginal Land Council the landowner.
Learn more about ATS projects on our website: https://www.advancedtrainingsystems.org.au/projects/
Photo below: Site visit supported by Toby Whaleboat (left; Local Land Services NSW) and Kentan Proctor (right; Bahtabah Local Aboriginal Land Council)