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SSN Online Seminar: Present and Future Directions for Cultural Fire

SSN Online Seminar: Present and Future Directions for Cultural Fire


Aboriginal communities, land and fire management agencies and researchers across the humanities and sciences often agree that greater engagement and partnership with Aboriginal peoples is not just the right thing to do but could also beneficially change how we all coexist with bushfire in southeast Australia. For some time, practical progress in relationships between these agencies and Aboriginal communities issues have been undermined by limited understandings of Aboriginal peoples’ rights and interests, however there are recent positive signs of improvement, such as the Victorian Traditional Owner Cultural Fire Strategy and the fact that more cultural burns are occurring. Now, following the 2019-2020 Black Summer fires, there is heightened interest in how Aboriginal peoples’ fire management knowledge and practices can be supported by land and fire management agencies and others to better manage the increasing threat of bushfires.

This event will bring together a panel of speakers with a range of experiences in these matters to discuss the present and possible futures of cultural fire and cultural burning in southeast Australia, including opportunities for better partnership between agencies, Aboriginal communities researchers and others.

About the speakers:

Bhiamie Williamson is a Euahlayi man from north-west NSW and south-west Qld. He is a PhD candidate and Research Associate at the Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research (CAEPR) at the Australian National University. Bhiamie has previously held positions with ACT Parks and Conservation Services where he played a key role in designing a cultural burning program in the ACT.

Scott Falconer is Deputy Chief Fire Officer/Director Forest and Fire Operations for the Department of Environment, Land, Water & Planning. He has spent almost thirty years working in natural resource management. In 2017, Scott received the Lord Mayor’s Bushfire Appeal Churchill Fellowship to investigate how to create partnerships with Traditional Owners, with a focus on enabling the reintroduction of cultural burning practices.

Minda Murray is a Yorta Yorta and Duduroa woman and currently a First Nations Academic Associate at the Australian National University about to commence her PhD researching Aboriginal self-determination in Victoria. She has a career spanning over 10 years in the public sector working on environmental issues, Aboriginal policy and as public service emergency response firefighter.

Matt Shanks is a a Nira illim bulluk man of the Taungurung nation. He works for the Federation of Victorian Traditional Owner Corporations as a Natural and Cultural Resource Management Advisor. This role sees him support Victorian Traditional Owners to re-activate Traditional Owner rights to manage Country and reinvigorate Cultural Fire knowledge and practices.

Timothy Neale (chair) is a pakeha/non-indigenous geographer and anthropologist and holds the position of DECRA Senior Research Fellow at Deakin University’s Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globalisation. He is currently engaged in several research projects focused on bushfire management and cultural fire.

Watch the seminar:

Seminar will be available to stream on YouTube live. Access using the live link:

Date/time: Thursday 11th June, 4:00-5:15pm (Australian Eastern Standard Time, GMT+10)

Q&A with speakers to follow chaired by Timothy Neale. To send questions/participate in the chat, you’ll need to sign-in using a YouTube account.

The seminar will be recorded and available to watch on the SSN YouTube channel after the Livestream.

If you have any questions, please send to


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