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Joint media release with the Hon Murray Watt, the Hon Malarndirri McCarthy, Luke Gosling MP, and Marion Scrymgour MP

Northern Australia will continue to benefit from a vital fire management tool used to reduce the risk of wildfires across the region, thanks to extended funded from the Australian Government.

The North Australia and Rangelands Fire Information (NAFI) service managed by Charles Darwin University (CDU), has been awarded a $588,000 grant to support its operations in 2024/25.

The funding will ensure the online mapping service continues to be available to land managers and agencies as they prepare for the peak fire weather season in Northern Australia, which runs from June to November.

The funding has been made available under the Disaster Resilience Australia Package, in recognition of the vital role the resource plays for state and territory emergency services, governments, councils and landowners in Queensland, the Northern Territory, Western Australia and South Australia.

Minister for Emergency Management Murray Watt said the funding boost would ensure NAFI could continue operating over the coming peak fire weather season.

“This online mapping tool provides bushfire information across much of Australia with data and analytical tools to support on-the-ground fire management and planning,” Minister Watt said.

“In late 2023 NAFI was used extensively by emergency services such as Bushfires NT to help them protect townships threatened by the large wildfires that spread across remote parts of Australia.

“It’s a vital resource for a lot of stakeholders, including the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), and informs the Australian Fire Danger Rating System.”

Senator for the NT Malarndirri McCarthy said last fire season more than 13 million hectares burned across the Northern Territory.

"We have never seen the intensity of fires like we saw last year in places like the Barkly region.

“NAFI is a really valuable tool to help with fire management across the region, used by Traditional Owners, park rangers and pastoralists to manage the land.”

Member for Solomon Luke Gosling said he was pleased to see funding extended.

“I’m pleased to see the Australian Government invest in disaster preparedness in the North. Programs like NAFI are so important for public information, including providing authorities and community members with data of where the fire is and where it’s recently burned.”

Member for Lingiari Marion Scrymgour said there was a lot of demand for the service NAFI provides.

“In 2023 NAFI was more used than ever, with a tripling of usage over the previous year.”

“During the bushfires in the Barkly region last year, NAFI and Charles Darwin University received about 180,000 map requests a day, with staff working overtime to ensure emergency services and the public could easily access timely and accurate data.”

CDU operates the NAFI service on a not-for-profit basis and since 2013 has received more than $4.4 million in Australian Government funding for the service.

Manager of the NAFI service, Peter Jacklyn, said at this time of year many Indigenous Rangers, pastoralists and park rangers are implementing their planned burns across their properties using NAFI as a guide to help them. These burns create the fire breaks that will limit the spread of wildfires later in the year.

“This funding will allow this highly valued service to continue delivering fire information to people across large parts of Australia,” Mr Jacklyn said.

“Importantly this funding will also provide resources allowing us to establish a sustainable funding platform for the NAFI service into the future.”

NEMA continues working with CDU to identify future sustainable funding sources.

For more information visit North Australia Fire Information Service.

This release was originally published on the Ministers for the Department of Home Affairs' website.