Indigenous fire practitioner: ‘Let us drive for a change’

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Victor Steffensen says it’s time the Australian Government listened to Aboriginal people when it comes to fire prevention.

Victor Steffensen says the Government needs to pay attention to Indigenous fire practitioners, like himself, for the sake of the country.

“I would say jump in the passenger seat and let us drive for a change,” Steffensen told ABC’s Q+A program.

“Just once in this nation's history can you just listen to Aboriginal people, our knowledge system.

“There's an intelligence there and we have all this information for looking after the environment and we've not been tapped in to and it's so frustrating.”

Steffensen, an Indigenous fire practitioner who has been teaching traditional burning practices for the past two decades, appeared on Insight’s program, Line of Fire, in 2016.

Victor Steffensen
Victor Steffensen demonstrating at the National Indigenous Fire Workshop 2014
National Indigenous Fire Workshop

A clip of Victor from that show was shared on Insight’s Facebook page at the end of last year, and gained 10 million views over the summer. He says awareness of Indigenous fire practices has grown over the past few months – but sadly he has not heard from anyone in the Government.

“No approach from any politicians at all,” he told Q+A.

“We need to have change. We need change right across the board.”

Steffensen hopes the Government will allow him, and other fire practitioners, to educate others in the community about our ecosystems and the right times to burn to help decrease fuel loads on the ground.

“I mean, everyone is so fractured and not working together, we have so many different mindsets in this country,” he said.

“We need to start opening our hearts, opening our minds and start working together and in every region around Australia now, there are communities that are wanting to get cultural fire projects going and there are Rural Fire Service willing to support that and other agencies and the broader community are starting to understand that now.”

Source Insight

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