Bath calls for Minister to attend fire trials

Member for Eastern Victoria Melina Bath has called on the Minister for the Environment Lily D’Ambrosio to visit and observe a trial of indigenous fire management practices.

Ms Bath’s asked a question in the Legislative Council chamber this week referring in particular to presentations and demonstrations around traditional fire management practices being led by indigenous fire practitioner, Victor Steffensen, from Queensland. Ms Bath attended one of these at Forestec at Lakes Entrance in late 2016.

There was also extensive discussion around Steffensen’s methodology at a forum held as part of the Mountain Cattlemen’s Association of Victoria 2017 Get Together, held at Buchan last month. The two-hour forum was attended by almost 100 people, including Ms Bath.

“There is growing recognition of how traditional indigenous fire management practices can be applied to reduce fuel loads, increase biodiversity, heal our landscape and improve outcomes for community safety,” Ms Bath said in the chamber.

“Last year, leaders from Wurundjeri and Gunaikurnai people, representatives from DELWP, CFA, ParksVic, councils, Mountain Cattlemen of Victoria and locals attended traditional firestick forums run by expert Victor Steffensen in my electorate.”

“Hailing from Northern Queensland, with over 20 years’ experience, Victor has a wealth of knowledge.”

During March, Mr Steffensen will again conduct workshops in Gippsland, at the invitation of various indigenous groups.

Ms Bath said that the interest sparked by Steffensen’s presentations had led people to ask if the Minister would attend to hear him speak and to observe his demonstration first-hand.

“A number of constituents have asked me to ask you as Minister for the Environment to attend one of his ‘on country’ forums and to understand how aboriginal cool burn methods can be trialled in Victoria,” Ms Bath’s question concluded.

Ms Bath is yet to receive a response from the Minister.