Indigenous fire practitioner Victor Steffensen visited Kaurna country in December 2019 to share traditional knowledge of fire systems and land management.Mr Steffensen has spent decades working with fire across Australia and promoting the importance of healing the land through cultural burning practices.Mr Steffensen said cultural burning is about more than lighting a fire.“When you talk about Indigenous fire, it’s not just about lighting a match or rubbing sticks together and it’s not just spiritual knowledge, but Indigenous fire management is about the food on the landscape and how we look after the country so that it looks after us.”Mr Steffensen said the right fire burn can heal a sick country.“The knowledge of plants and medicines is crucial to understanding what country is supposed to look like. Indigenous knowledge knows what country is supposed to provide for people. When we don’t find the plant there, we know that the system is unbalanced, or the country is sick. So, instantly we apply a fire in the right way to heal that landscape, especially if it’s a fire dependent system. We’ll apply fire to bring back those plants and bring back the balance to make sure that there’s food on the landscape.“And the situation that we’re in now is because the country isn’t managed the way it used to be managed. What we have now is all the systems turning into rubbish. And so, we get different ecosystems that all have the same invasive grasses or leaf litter or just rubbish over the top of healthy country that you don’t see anymore” he said.“The next step is to get more people informed and involved in looking after their country” said Mr Steffensen.“We need people out there looking after the landscape every day because the extent of the problems across our ecosystems is massive. Now all the doors are closed because the country is not healthy, but if we open those doors by making country healthy, we will start to see people out there doing; collecting food, educating our kids, protecting habitats and getting more breakthroughs to improving our environment without waiting for western science to catch up.“But we need everyone on board, not different mindsets across the country but everyone willing to work together to make things happen” said Mr Steffensen.
By Kaliah Alice
SANTS acknowledges that the land on which our office is based is the traditional lands for the Kaurna people and we respect their spiritual and cultural relationship with their country.