National win for resilience

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

 Dixons Creek Primary received a national award for its Wurundjeri-led fire program.

The school took home the Resilient Australia National School Award for the Firestick Project, which had support from Yarra Ranges Council and the State Government.

Students from Grades 3 to 6 learnt about traditional fire practices, culture and the environment from indigenous elders.

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,” she said.

“This project helped students and their families learn to understand fire from a different point of view.

“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.”

Ms Walker said she was thankful for contributions 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’ cycles to indicate small areas that were ready to burn, known as cool burns.

This type of burning can help to heal country.

The students’ work was published in a story book launched last year, The Parent Trees Are Talking.

The books are available across Eastern Regional Libraries in the Yarra Ranges and at schools in the Yarra Ranges, Maroondah and Knox Council areas.

Students presented their project findings to a Federal Government disaster resilience committee last year.

They delivered a live reading from the book to 280 people in Healesville on Reconciliation Day this year.

Yarra Ranges Councillor Fiona McAllister said her colleagues 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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