The Andrews Labor Government is supporting Aboriginal Victorians to care for Country in Eastern Victoria with a $22.6 million investment to reinvigorate Traditional Owner-led cultural land and fire management practices.

As part of the Victorian Budget 2021/22, the funding will support Aboriginal Victorians to implement the Victorian Traditional Owner Cultural Fire Strategy.

Member for Eastern Victoria Harriet Shing said this funding ensures access to Country and enabling Traditional Owners to practice cultural fire and other land management activities plays a key role in supporting self-determination. It’s also vital in helping to keep our state safe.

Traditional Owners undertake cultural burning for a range of reasons associated with caring for Country – including promoting revegetation, producing food, game and maintaining spiritual connection with Country.

This investment also acknowledges that First Peoples have been using fire as a tool to manage the land – and reduce the risks of bushfires – for tens of thousands of years.

Not only can these practices help keep Country safe from extreme fires, it can also help to rejuvenate local flora, protect native animal habitats, and respond to weeds and pests.

Under the strategy, an Aboriginal-led Cultural Fire Leadership group will be established, helping to bring together Traditional Owners and land managers in delivering local cultural fire plans.

This investment will also support Traditional Owners in sharing cultural burning techniques with our state’s emergency services and conservation groups, including creating jobs that support First Peoples to participate on the ground with fire crews.

The Budget also includes new support for Traditional Owners to share their expertise with their communities, ensuring this knowledge and practice is safeguarded for future generations.

Building on $1.26 million in last year’s Budget, this further investment will deliver on the commitments made as part of the Labor Government’s Self-determination Reform Framework and the Victorian Aboriginal Affairs Framework 2018-2023.

Quotes attributable to Member for Eastern Victoria Harriet Shing

“Traditional Owners and their knowledge of Country as part of the oldest continuous culture on Earth has been a key part of protecting and making the most of our natural environment.”

“With this investment, we’ll make sure Aboriginal culture and knowledge continues to determine and guide the way that land is cared for and risk is managed – including through seasonal cool and mosaic burns, and specialist advice and expertise on land and fuel management across the state.”