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A man stands in the tray of a ute fitted with fire management equipment as he speaks to team members on the ground in protective equipment.

Caring for Country with cultural burning

Australia's First Nations community have been custodians of country for tens of thousands of years. In an environment where disasters are expected to become more complex and unpredictable, it’s important to consider the role of cultural burning and land management to mitigate the effects of bushfires.

With the help of First Nations Bushfire Officer Michael Willmot, Gladstone Regional Council is using cultural fire management practices as part of their bushfire mitigation strategy.

Sharing cultural burning expertise

As a proud Wakka Wakka man, Michael’s fire journey began while working in park management at Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. Learning from Anangu (Central Desert Aboriginal people) he was able to build his skills as a fire practitioner. It’s this passion, knowledge and experience that the Gladstone Region will now benefit from.

In his role as First Nations Bushfire Officer, he works closely with the region's Traditional Owners to establish healthy management of country. Areas of his work include educating volunteers on how to safely walk on country, strategies for improved landscape management and the appropriate weather conditions for cool burns. He also shares how cultural burning serves as a tool to eradicate weeds from the natural environment and protects wildlife.


Delivering cultural burns on Gladstone reserves

The Council is now seeking First Nations volunteers to come and learn from Michael, and help plan, prepare and deliver cultural burns on Council reserves.

NEMA is working to enable more secure, stronger and resilient communities across Australia. The First Nations Fire Officer role and Cultural Burn and Land Management Program is supported by funding from the Australian Government’s Black Summer Bushfire Recovery Grants Program.