Fire and Aboriginal cultural values

Fire is an inherent cultural responsibility and obligation of Aboriginal people in caring for Country for current and future generations.

Bringing Aboriginal culture into land managementThe Department of Planning, Industry and Environment protects and enables natural and cultural values of significance for Aboriginal people in New South Wales. In recognition of Aboriginal connection and values within national parks, the Department forms partnerships with Aboriginal communities to manage natural landscapes. Increasingly, these arrangements are formalised within joint management agreements and Indigenous Land Use agreements. Through these agreements, Aboriginal communities are able to have a significant say in determining how on-park values are managed and for what outcomes.

The Department recognises Aboriginal culture is a vibrant living culture sustained through continuing cultural practice. National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) supports research in cultural fire management as a participatory process, supported by the Cultural Fire Management Policy.

The emerging challenge for the Department is to implement a fire management framework capable of protecting and enhancing diverse on-park values, while minimising risk to life and property. Managing this for Aboriginal values means working closely with Aboriginal people, listening to and respecting cultural perspectives, knowledge, spiritual obligations and continuing cultural practice needs in relation to land management.

What are we doing?

As the Department moves forward in partnership with Aboriginal people, the research needs for Aboriginal fire concern how it can be:

  • articulated
  • experienced
  • applied
  • integrated
  • costs and benefits understood and reported.

There is also an important need to better understand the impact wildfires and current fire management practices have on Aboriginal culture and heritage.

Fire and Cultural Science Team initiating a Cultural burn