More than 65,000 years of Aboriginal cultural knowledge has been used to help combat invasive weeds at SA Water’s Finger Point Wastewater Treatment Plant. The project was part of a prescribed burn initiative with members of the South East First Nations community.
In partnership with the Burrandies Aboriginal Corporation, Department for Environment and Water and the Limestone Coast Landscape Board, the prescribed burn project incorporated fire burning practices historically used by members of the Boandik community to manage the invasive Lavatory Creeper vine, spread over parts of the 100-hectare treatment plant site.
Boandik country extends from Robe to the mouth of the Glenelg River in Victoria, with a number of registered Aboriginal heritage sites located within the SA Water’s Finger Point site boundary. SA Water’s Strategy, Engagement and Innovation General Manager Anna Jackson said working with the South East First Nations community provided both positive environmental and Reconciliation outcomes.
“We are committed to building relationships with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities we work in and through our collaboration with Burrandies we developed a plan to involve Aboriginal cultural practices in the burn activity, as a way to capture their experience and knowledge for future generations,” Ms Jackson said.
“Following heritage inspections on the culturally-significant site, local Boandik Elder Ken Jones began the cultural ceremony through a Welcome to Country in traditional language. “The flame was then lit by Uncle Doug Nicholls using traditional fire stick methods and after a smoking ceremony, was passed over to the region’s Cultural Rangers to safely start the two-day prescribed burn at the Finger Point fireground.
“Lavatory Creeper is an invasive vine that has been tricky to manage in the past and it’s important we prevent the weed from spreading further before it can impact both the native vegetation and cultural heritage in the area. “The end result was an incredible event highlighting how First Nations people have used fire to care for country for centuries, while achieving the objective of managing noxious weeds for the benefit of the local environment.
“Uncle Ken Jones said it was the first time in more than a hundred years the Boandik community has been involved in a local burn like this and we are proud to have worked with them on this important environmental and cultural initiative.”
Burrandies Aboriginal Corporation Chief Executive Robyn Campbell said it was a culturally important project to be a part of. “This prescribed burn was a great opportunity to initiate discussions and share important culture knowledge about traditional fire management practices that many may not be aware of,” she said.
“We hope to continue partnering with SA Water in the spirit of Reconciliation and working together in caring for country.”