Speeches

Monday, 06 March 2023

Afternoon Tea for the SA Women’s Firestick Conference


Welcome to this afternoon tea to mark the very first SA Women’s Firesticks Conference. May I say how pleased I was to be invited to host you.

I am delighted to be joined by women from First Nations communities across South Australia, as well as representatives from the Firesticks Alliance.

For thousands of years, our continent has faced drought, bushfires and floods, and with climate change these natural disasters are increasing in frequency and intensity.

To manage these events, we need to be able to draw on all of the expert knowledge available to us, especially that of our indigenous communities.

Caring for country is one of many gifts that First Nations cultures bring to our society.

As custodians of this land for tens of thousands of years, your relationship with country is something we can all learn from.

Your reverence and respect for the land and waters, and understanding of the deep reciprocal relationship that exists between people and the earth, is foundational to addressing the environmental challenges of our time.

At a practical level, indigenous land care practices, such as cultural burning, also have great value.

As with all knowledge and skill that is passed down across generations, this is not an automatic process.

I thank you all for your commitment to ensuring that cultural fire wisdom and practices are passed down to the next generation of First Nations peoples, and that teachers and role models are available from which they can learn.

In recent years, particularly in the wake of the summer 2019-2020 bushfires, I have been pleased to see an increased public conversation in Australia about cultural burning practices and how they can assist with bushfire prevention and management.

It’s wonderful to see indigenous women asserting their rightful place in this conversation, and I thank you all for playing a role in this process.

Friends,

Thank you to the conference convenors for supporting women to fulfil their important roles in Cultural Fire.

I trust your conference activities, which continue tomorrow, will be both fruitful and enjoyable, and provide an opportunity for healing for you as women, and for the land you meet on.

I also thank the Firestick Alliance for its contribution to ensuring the preservation of cultural fire knowledge and practices, and to growing awareness of them in Australia.

Have a lovely afternoon.

Ngaityalya.