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Firestick Project takes out national disaster resilience award

Published on 13 December 2018


Dixons Creek Primary School has been awarded the Resilient Australia National School Award for the Firestick Project, a Wurundjeri-led program, supported by Council and the State Government.

Students from grades three to six participated in the project which gave them an opportunity to learn about traditional fire-practices, culture and the environment from Indigenous Elders.

Dixons Creek Primary School Principal Sharon Walker said students took part in an immersive walk on country with Wurundjeri Elder Uncle Dave Wandin to learn about Indigenous fire practices and connection to country.

“Many families in the local area were affected by the 2009 bushfires and this project helped students and their families learn to understand fire from a different point of view,” Ms Walker said.

“The students learnt about the benefits of traditional Aboriginal land management and how fire can be used in a positive way.

“The children now have a better understanding of traditional uses of fire which they have been able to share with their families and wider community.”


Photo: Lily, Shanice, Dave Wandin, Chloe, Brody and Tarni at Dixons Creek Primary School

Ms Walker said she was thankful for the contributions of Indigenous Fire Practitioners Victor Steffenson and Ralph Hume.

Some parents attended the National Indigenous Fire Workshop in Cape York in 2016 to learn about Indigenous practices as part of the project. Traditional knowledge of the environment helped the Indigenous community to burn country using the plants cycle to indicate small areas that were ready to burn, which is known as “cool burns”. This type of burning can help heal country.

The students’ work was published in a story book launched last year titled The Parent Trees Are Talking. The books are available across Eastern Regional Libraries in the Yarra Ranges and were given to schools in the Yarra Ranges, Maroondah and Knox Council areas.

Students delivered a live reading of the book to 280 people in Healesville on Reconciliation Day this year. They presented their project findings to a Federal Government disaster resilience committee in 2017.

Cr Fiona McAllister said the Yarra Ranges Councillors were all very proud of the students and what they achieved.

“Being fire aware and learning about the realities of where we live is part of growing up in the outer east and Yarra Valley area,” Cr McAllister said.

“This project recognises the importance of involving children and young people because they are our future leaders.

“Council is keen to strengthen our community’s resilience and this project is one that provides such an opportunity.”

The Resilient Australia Awards is a nation-wide program that recognises and promotes initiatives that strengthen community disaster resilience and inspire others to do the same in their own communities.


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