Uncle David Wandin

Uncle David Wandin is a Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung Elder and Cultural Practices Manager (Fire and Water) at the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung Cultural Heritage Aboriginal Corporation. He is a recognised leader in the promotion and execution of cultural (cool) burns in Victoria.

About Uncle David Wandin

Uncle David Wandin is a Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung Elder and Cultural Practices Manager (Fire and Water) at the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung Cultural Heritage Aboriginal Corporation. He is a recognised leader in the promotion and execution of cultural (cool) burns in Victoria.

Prior to this role, Uncle Dave was instrumental in the establishment of the Corporation’s Narrap Team, a group of cultural land managers. He has also sat on the Waterways of the West Ministerial Advisory Committee.

Uncle Dave is the Director and property manager of the Wandoon Estate Aboriginal Corporation. This organisation represents the Wurundjeri people, the Indigenous owners of the historical property “Coranderrk” in the Yarra Valley. Set up as an Aboriginal Reserve in 1863, Coranderrk closed in 1924. In 1999, the Indigenous Land Corporation purchased 80 hectares of the property and gave ownership to the Wandoon Estate. Coranderrk now operates as a farm for native bush foods and to restore environmental health and productivity to the farm. It will also soon open up as a training space and commercial kitchen.

Video Transcript

How would you like to introduce yourself?

Wawa which means hello.  My name is Dave Wandin and I’m an elder of the Wurundjeri Woi wurrung tribal land Council on whose land we are gathered today. I’ve just finished doing a walk with a group of like-minded people who believe in caring for Country and were looking for inspiration. As an elder of the Wurundjeri Woi wurrung I hold many responsibilities and there are too many for me to remember. I sit on very many different reference groups working with the government but I enjoy working with people at the local level, at the community level to share my knowledge. As an elder that gives me the right to choose who I speak to and who I don’t share my knowledge with uh my knowledge system is based around caring for Country with a focus on fire and water and the use of those elements in preserving and reinvigorating and rediscovering our culture. That’s me in a nutshell.

What can you tell us about the story of this place, Coranderrk?

So the place where we are gathered is Wurundjeri Country – Wurundjeri Woi wurrung Country. But where we actually are on a pinpoint on a map is what remains of Coranderrk Mission Station which we now just call Coranderrk  station the story of Coranderrk begins in the early days of colonisation and it holds the story of the battle between the black and the white, between the settler and the Indigenous, between the colonials and the Indigenous peoples of Victoria. It has been a gathering place for many tribes from across Victoria in its heyday between 1863 and 1924 it was a land that was fought for by our people. It was not a mission that we were forced to go to – this was the first mission site that was chosen by our people as being suitable to look after our needs. A way of looking at it is that this was the first land rights claim in Australia back in 1863. My ancestors wanted a place where they could maintain or hold on to their dignity and their culture but also knowing that they had to adapt to the the colonisation, that their life was changing. To make sure that they survived they knew that they would have to learn new ways but they wanted to hang on to their old ways and having the choice of where they were forced to live to stay out of the white man’s way gave them some of that dignity. If anything it’s the beginning of reconciliation: it actually showed that with dialogue and conversation that white and black can live together unfortunately the uh the powers the be of that time uh that was not actually their agenda. They did expect us to die out on this property. All Aboriginal people across Victoria is why they were pushed onto the mission stations. Instead because we were able to choose this land, we were able to thrive which also upset the government. But we did show that we could survive in this country alongside what was happening to the invasion of the rest of our lands, of our traditional lands. There’s a sad part and there’s a good part in what I’ve just said – the sad part was that we failed to hang on to this land but the good part was that everything that happened here was recorded by someone or another. This was a visited place by dignitaries, white dignitaries because it was held up as an example to the rest of the world of how Australia was treating their Aboriginal people. A bit like the – I liken it to the German concentration camps when the Red Cross used to go and investigate them and they would find their healthiest specimens and put them on display for the Red Cross to see and therefore tell the world that they were actually looking after their prisoners of War. And that’s why Coranderrk was visited by so many people. And photos were taken of the industry that we set up, of the buildings that we built for ourselves, the farming that we did. We ran a piggery, we ran cattle we had a dairy farm. We’re sitting next to the dairy farm at the moment – we had a thriving vegetable industry growing corn and potatoes all the modern vegetables that we’re kind of used to today – but in the early days we were still allowed to do our traditional fishing and hunting and I’m sure our women would have been going out and collecting the various plants that were still available – very few of them exist around this area now, although there are little snippets of information around. In 1924 we did eventually lose it after many parliamentary battles and this place was closed down and we were all asked to leave. And many of them did leave. Some went back to their traditional homelands uh so it wasn’t just Wurundjeri people that lived here; it was from people all across Victoria who chose to actually come and live here because they heard about how successful and how sustainable and how we were looking after ourselves and they wanted to be a part of that story. When it did close down in 1924 they many of those went back to their own homelands and the rest who didn’t have a homeland to go to were requested or forced to go to Lake Tyers down in Gippsland. But my family chose not to leave Healesville, we actually stayed in town on the edges of the mission station and that’s my connection to this place now because I’m a descendant of William Barak, well actually of his sister. And when my aunties and other Elders fought to ask for some of this land to be returned in 1998 I didn’t know it at the time but they already had it in mind that one day I would be looking after this Country. I laughed at them when they said that because at the time – I have an engineering background and I was quite happy working in industry and making good money, but unfortunately I did that in a white way – I hadn’t embraced my Aboriginal culture at the time. And so I did laugh, and it wasn’t until Dad passed away in 2008 that I realised I had a job to do that that what my dad said to me, you know learn all the culture you can, son, because and so you can look after this Country because other people are going to come back and ask you, asking us how did your tribe survive for so long in this country. And that has turned out to be true. My father was no academic – there was no… able to predict the future as such. Neither could William Barak and yet they knew the change was coming and they spent – William Barak and Simon Wonga in particular – spent all the time with the people that stayed here at Coranderrk to teach them to accept and adapt to the ways that were being imposed on them and therefore be able to survive and I count myself as one of the lucky survivors. Because when William Barak died – and he was looked upon as the king uh we call it Ngurungaeta – he had no surviving sons to pass down that role as a king. And our connection to this place, my particular family is that he chose my great great grandfather to be the next king. And that’s my connection to this place. So if it ever was going to be woken up then it is our responsibility as descendants of Robert Wandin to take on the role and the example that William Barak left us as he said in the 1881 inquiry into the Coranderrk station where he asked, ‘Give us this land and we will show you that we can work it’. And that is exactly what we are doing here today – we have 200 acres that has been handed back to us out of the original 5,000 acres that were set aside in perpetuity, but that was then undermined by future legislation to have it taken away from us. We look at that as Coranderrk unfortunately was left to go to sleep and hopefully fade away into the history books. But there is too much documentation that tells the story of Coranderrk, there are too many people that are interested in this day and age to understand what happened to the Aboriginals at the time of colonisation, what are the Aboriginals doing now so we’re doing the same example we are ‘showing the country’ and we open this place to all people who are interested to come on the journey with us, to walk with us, beside us, not in front of us leading the way, not in the back pushing us forward, but beside us, where we still can make the decisions on our own country. It is Aboriginal owned, it is Aboriginal-led and managed and it always was, it always will be Coranderrk land that belongs to the Aboriginal people. That’s the story of Coranderrk we call it Yalinguth, Yalingbu and Yirramboi, which means there is a past, a yesterday, there is now and there is a future.

Can you tell us about your current project here? What are some of the ways you are working towards regenerating the land?

So a lot of people ask me the question, so what are your plans for the future? well in 1998 we had no plans. All we did was we wanted to celebrate that we had some land given back to us and we spent quite a few years just celebrating being on the land. We had lots of parties here, lots of swimming and fishing um invited you know other Aboriginal people that we knew and we just gathered here and exchanged stories and heard some of the stories that were carried over from the people when they were living here. And that was good but then after a while we started to look at the land and start to understand what did the land mean to us – not just our connection through community and through people, but what does this land mean and what could we do with it? I’ve always had a passion about our Bush Foods because there’s very little known about them and I come up with this concept: let’s see if we can promote these food plants and learn from them and so I put forward the suggestion let’s start growing Bush foods without realising how much effort that would take… and it just happened not long after we decided that’s what we were going to do Agriculture Victoria had become interested in Bush foods and they approached us and offered us money to start up a bush foods industry and we grabbed that with open arms and then that’s when the problems started It really did because we found out how much we didn’t know about Bush Foods. So a lot of research… and as a part of that research we connected with Melbourne University who have concerns with climate change as is … in the food Sciences industry um there are concerns all around the world uh with the impacts of climate change if it gets as dire as what they say, how are we going to feed humanity and one of the things that was suggested to us by Melbourne University that our Bush Foods may be the answer to Australia’s food problem particularly Melbourne’s food bowl itself because we grow very little for ourselves here in Victoria and particularly for the city of Melbourne most of our foods come from Queensland and Northern New South Wales and we know that during Covid and during the floods and the fires, the transport system happens and we you know we were low on supplies, which is what happens. But yeah thinking longer term in terms of climate change, modern crops are just failing generally across the world um due to over-utilisation of the soil and fertilisers introduced and irrigation needs and all that kind of thing. So Melbourne University said they were looking into well, let’s look at what has survived here for thousands of years – not the introduced crops that came over with the First Fleet but what always existed here and sustained the Aboriginal people for tens of thousands years. So we have a partnership agreement with them to undertake research using their labs and their scientific knowledge as as we’re rebuilding our own cultural knowledge and hopefully produce a food industry that is sustainable and adaptable to the climate change that is coming um it’s going to be difficult we’ve got to find those foods we have to do the studies of what is the nutrient levels in them, you know how good are they for human consumption. We know it kept our people alive and well for tens of thousand years so there can’t be anything bad about them, but there are but some bad things if they’re not prepared properly and cooked properly you know that they could be non-beneficial to people’s health so there’s a lot of research before we actually put them in a package and put them on a shelf and put them out there and you know I’m going to be like Madame Curie and I’m going to taste test all of these things and put myself up as the guinea pig I’m willing to have them. I don’t have much experience of eating Bush Foods as a child I remember my stepmother actually feeding me what we used to call Grass stew cause she didn’t explain what they were just that they were good for us I now know looking back at that that she was actually still foraging for foods – native foods that she could find on our walks when we go away on weekend and hunting for rabbits or going fishing and things like that. All us boys would be doing those mainly things of fishing and hunting and and Tiny as she was known to everybody, was always out there amongst the grasses picking up what we thought were weeds but we now know were probably native Bush Foods. So rediscovering all that is going to take some years but we do have a 10 year strategy towards that. We actually had a 10-year strategy, we got to to our 5-year part of that and then we had to write a new 10-year strategy because we know we need more time. But they are small steps forward at the moment I do believe that eventually and we do have interested partners already in the Yarra Valley, we’re in the Yarra Ranges with our local wineries where the chefs have come out and had a taste of some of the foods we can grow – our native mint, our native pepper leaf, our appleberry… what else have we got our Warrigal greens which anybody can grow and they’re quite well known, but yeah getting into more of our tuberous food so getting to understand our knowledge of Bulbine lilies which to me just think of your grandmother or your mother’s best ever mashed potato and that’s what they taste like to me. The Murnong which is quite well known about extremely easy to grow but very very hard to to keep it alive long enough to… till you can actually harvest it… so there’s a lot of work to do in that space uh because there are introduced pests that absolutely love that plant… so yeah lots and lots of research to do but that’s our vision for the future – to diversify this farm. We cannot live just on the cattle alone, we cannot live on just our visitor experience but adding the bush foods into it gives us three things but also maintaining our connection to the land and the land will tell us what it can and can’t do, so making sure we keep to the modern idea of conservation values so where there are no… where it’s not good for cattle we don’t put the cattle in there if we start growing foods in there and that doesn’t work well we don’t put food in there we will actually create habitat for other things that should be living in this land: all the birds, the animals the insects. And even with the 20,000 trees that we have planted initially with an upgrade of another 10,000 plants just 2 years ago, just doing bird surveys with bird life Australia we’ve had a 40% increase in the – not just in the numbers but in the variety of birds which are known to exist in the area but weren’t necessarily recorded here. So they are interesting findings already so even if we can’t get food for ourselves we are creating food fibre, tools and medicine and habitat for our totemic systems so that’s a reward in itself to these various birds coming in at different times of the year and seeing the numbers increase we know that we are doing good for the country.

Did someone teach or pass knowledge to you?

Yeah so a lot of people ask me where did you learn all this knowledge and well I haven’t learned it all yet, I’m still learning but it started off when I was made an elder when I was nominated to be an elder and I didn’t know what an Elder’s role was. I hadn’t been prepared for it but as my father’s only surviving son, he nominated me as he got older as is his right to do under cultural law, he nominated me when I was 45 to become an elder. That was then supported by the two other family groups who said yes this would be great to have Dave you know to carry on the knowledge and at that time our knowledge was mainly about the politics of what Aboriginal people live in and archaeology which I was already doing and that was okay but I thought there’s got to be more to that than just being an elder so what I started to do was ask questions of our other Elders on what their role was or what they thought their role as an elder was and basically the the thing was: learn what you can and pass it on. And I’ve always had a fascination for country – running away into the bush as a teenager quite a lot, wanting to always be out on country and when I started asking questions about country and what should I be looking for you know what’s this tree used for, what’s that grass used for, where would you find this particular animal, what are the signs… actually didn’t have a lot of Knowledge from the elders, so I then started asking um uh local people that were interested in conservation – the Greenies if you like, um the tree huggers that I knew were always out there, ‘friends of’ groups and land care groups if they knew anything and uh they knew what was native and what wasn’t but they didn’t know very much about the uses, so I then started asking other Aboriginal mobs what their knowledge was and uh just more or less accidentally kept coming across the right people to at least give me a a hook of an area of research or or a place where I could go and uncover this information and through that I’ve built up my own oral knowledge and tested those theories and questioned some of the statements that have been made hence my involvement with Melbourne University I worked and asked for training in conservation and land management and got my Certificate Three and then went on to develop an education program for Aboriginal people to get into conservation land management certificate 3. If nothing else at least to get our people on Country because we are much healthier on country than we are locked up in an office. As everybody knows through covid you everybody – once you were weren’t allowed to go outside everybody wanted to be outside so the it’s look the journey is one of discovery all the time. I’m always continually learning and I’m sure and I’ve run across some very very very helpful people both Indigenous and non-Indigenous who have freely given up their time to teach me which I’m now passing on to anybody who’s interested in listening so it’s not something you can’t pick up a book and discover all the things you need to know. Even though the elders may have the knowledge they don’t just pass it on, you have to earn the right to know that knowledge there’s many stories was like oh you know it or you’ll know it when you see it and quite often I have gone on walks and talks with various interested groups and I’ve pointed out to something and I’ve gone there’s something wrong about that even though I can’t explain it to myself and so it’s you know take a photo of it, ask anybody in the group if they know anything and follow that line of research until I exhaust it, so there’s many many ways to learn and I’m using every opportunity and it’ll go back to something my dad said to me when I was about 15 years of age he said, ‘Son, never go to bed until you learn something new’ and I still do that to this day and I’m 63 now. I’m a single person but I sleep in a queen-sized bed but the left hand side of my bed is piled with books so after each day’s work out on Country um I will go home and debrief myself and ask myself what did you learn today and if I feel that I’ve learned enough I can actually go to sleep. If I don’t feel I’ve learned enough then I’ve got to go through those books and learn something new or at least uncover an avenue for more learning on the following day or the following month or the following season.

How are you responding to climate change?

Climate change is not something new to Aboriginal people. It is to modern civilisation because no one can has a recollective memory or an oral memory of the last ice age which wasn’t that long ago –  it’s only 15,000 15 and a half thousand years ago that there was a a climate change, an Ice Age A mini Ice Age in Australia and my ancestors were here and they survived it and in the 100,000 years that we know scientifically that we’ve been here and it’s been proven there’s actually been three climate changes already although they weren’t caused by industrialisation. It’s a natural part of the planet’s processes uh climate change is climate change and if you are not ready to adapt to what is happening to you you do not survive and yet here we are the Aboriginal people still today that have the collective memory of when the our inland lakes dried up, of when some of our rivers formed, of Port Phillip Bay actually becoming Port Phillip Bay as we know it today – when that was actually open land and the Bunurong people walked across what is now the bottom on Port Phillip Bay which is now been backed up by science that that did actually happen. So I started to question what does climate change mean to us as Aboriginal people and I went back to um William Barak’s thoughts and his legacy that still drives me today: Give us this land and we will show you that we can work it, and understanding the climate change is coming how do I actually prepare this land for climate change. I can’t change climate change collectively across Australia but we are actually preparing for climate change right here on this 200 acres by taking cattle out of the water by using bore water, by trying to increase the biodiversity of this small block of land so that other small landholders can actually come and learn from us. You know when the the demand and supply why when Coles and Woolworths can’t supply us with all of our daily needs that we’re so used to and we overuse and throw away half of it; when people have to go back to learning to grow their own vegetables and fruit and things like that that where can they learn how to do that, and I’m hoping that we are ready for when that challenge comes that they can use this place as an example of best land management practice in trying times that humans will face in the near future.

Can you talk about firestick practices? Why is this knowledge needed today?

So one of the channels I guess I went into investigating which came about unfortunately because of a disaster was the 2009 bush fires where many people lost their lives I was actually here in Healesville at that time and the fires did come here onto Coranderrk uh we were lucky that they came here on what they call the the last disaster day, when the fires actually started to put themselves out: the wind turned around and and the fires were settled down, so we didn’t lose a lot of land here but it was frightening all the same.  This is quite a funny story. I happened to be sitting in a Council offices meeting with um some of the executives of the local Council on another matter, myself and two other elders. And at that time one of the elders if he got the chance to speak he would dominate the room and so I was sitting back and listening and learning from him and he had the ear of the mayor at the time and sitting next to me was council’s Emergency Management director uh Bruce uh Brett Ellis and he lent over to me he says what do you know about fire? and I said what I know how to light a fire, he says no, what do you know about bush fires I said, well they’re dangerous. He say well no, what do you know, how did you fellas burn the bush before we invaded and I had to tell him honestly that I didn’t know and he said, would you like to learn? And I said yeah I would. So me saying I didn’t know the answer to the question of how did we burn the bush ended up being more truer than either of us ever thought. At that time so this is after 2009 bushfires there was a man who was asked to come down here as part of the 2009 Bushfire inquiry a man named Victor Steffenson um to give his version of what we could have done an Indigenous man and a respected amongst Indigenous people as a fire knowledge holder if not a fire master in a modern context. Brett Ellis went and kidnapped him away from that inquiry and grabbed a few of us people here living in the Yarra Valley – myself as a Wurundjeri, two blokes from Yorta Yorta who have lived here most of their lives and a Taungurung man and we went out on country with Victor Steffenson. And he started to tell us about Indigenous fire and the amazing thing about that was although I said I knew nothing about Indigenous burning practices as he started to explain what he knew and what he was teaching I was looking to my compatriots, my sidekicks either side we’re looking at each other and going, I know that but I don’t remember being taught that. Victor Steffenson also noticed this interplay between us and so he invited us up to the next workshop that he ran with Cape York natural resource management so my first experience of going out and seeing Indigenous burning and he was very carefully watching us what we were doing and what we were learning and at the end of that at the end of a week up there, which was not just about fire was about a whole range of cultural things and how fire is connected to culture, how fire is connected to healing the land, how fire is important in maintaining our waterways and keeping them clean that is a natural part of the Australian cycle and that it can be controlled and it can be managed and it can be good fire – we don’t need to wait for these bush fires to happen and say oh everything’s going to be reset and you know we’ll get over it and we say you know we got through that disaster and wait for the next one. That’s not how land was managed by our people as I’ve now discovered but he sat us down and said right there was five of us by that time and he said you five are going back to Victoria and you are going to lead Victoria back to managing country and understanding the right fire for right country at the right time. Out of the five of us I got elected the spokesperson I was the better speaker and that started my journey on learning about fire attending many of Victor’s workshops uh and studying all I could about the modern way of burning which is used and called ecological burns amongst various Bush Crews. I did a fair bit of that and I was not happy with it because it’s all this straight line fire and you got to burn X amount and without very little consideration for the animals that might be living in that fire zone when you’re doing it. So yeah long journey up to the point now where I am respected and asked to present on why Indigenous fire is good, how can Indigenous fire be applied, to the point where I then sat down for three years amongst others and we wrote The Victorian Indigenous fire strategy and began the program of the Return of the Firesticks, which is beginning to happen. So from 2015 when I came back from that first workshop and approached the fire management agencies, the CFA and forest fire management through Deakin at that time and said I would like to start using Indigenous fire and they said, are you a trained firefighter and I said no, I’m not and they said well you’re not burning. You are not allowed to burn – there was just a flat-out no. Since then though, with the land management team that I had already started doing General Land Management as in weed control and reveg, here we are in 2024 and our Narrap team has more than 80 burns on the books to be conducted and it is now becoming an accepted practice – in certain landscapes. We still have to meet government criteria and things like that but that people are starting to realise that our way is not harmful to the ecology, it’s a benefit to the community, not only the community that lives in the area but the community of everything that is living in that space – the plants the animals the birds the reptiles and people are starting to see the value of it. So science is now really starting to follow on what we’re doing it will take them a long time to do that um just just the way science works, it’s the way the government works they’re very very risk-averse so a lot of people that are hesitant but also a lot of people that are wanting that are offering up their land where the government won’t let us burn that are offering up their private land saying you know what, I will take the risk because I don’t like the way that we’ve only got this one system that only certain people can come and do um the the modern way of burning off or hazard reduction or fuel reduction or asset protection or whatever they want to call it. They want the option and we are happy to engage with private landholders and to show them how they can learn to conduct fire on their own country or what they are calling their own country. So I’ve been secretly burning here at Coranderrk without asking permission but I’ve also been training Indigenous rangers uh to come down and learn on this property as well but I’m also training other landholders and you know our burning window actually starts now and we’re in May now and and yeah we burn all the way through September. We burn during winter which no one can understand – nothing’s going to burn it’s all green. In actual fact if the land was in balance and it wasn’t so much invasive pasture grass most of the native grasses are dying off during winter whereas here we’ve got all the grass growing which is the introduced grasses and that is the right time to burn: right time for right country. And these are the things you got to learn you have to understand the methodology of assessment to become a fire Elder before you light a fire so it’s quite easy to work out where you’re going to start your fire – much much harder to know where it’s going to finish and we don’t need water to stop fire uh you just need to know how to read country to understand that the lines where the fire will naturally go out. And everybody wants that formula uh and they want the one fixed formula and and the thing is it’s not because it’s different formula for different parts of the country for different types of years but you it’s different to doing that same formula in the in our rainforest or even in our forests to what it is to Burning uh in our grasslands there’s a difference between uh the type of trees that you’ve got the various types of eucalypt species there’s a lot of breaking breaking all of those down and separating them into smaller parcels of land um where you can use our methodology where you can burn safely and where you can work out exactly where the fire goes out. So it’s a huge responsibility to be a fire elder and I take that very seriously um but it is a part of a whole of Country management plan, which is how Aboriginal people did manage this land and made it look so pretty that the colonists or the Captain Cook and cohort decided that this was a good place to start a colony because they’d been kicked out of America um yeah so a bit of a history that goes there so yeah it’s fire. Water is connected uh so one of the first lessons I learned from Victor was if you want to become a fire Elder you first have to understand water. Most people interpret that as in you have to know how much water you’ve got to put the fire out but it’s actually got nothing to do with how much water to put the fire out, it’s understanding that there is a relationship between fire and water and it’s not using one to put the other out. It’s not using fire to boil water or water to put a fire out it’s understanding how water behaves in the landscape then understanding that when you apply by your fire you want the fire to behave exactly the same as water so you want it to trickle through the landscape and that’s very very hard to write down on paper it’s only by demonstration that you can actually witness what we call mosaic burning. Yeah.

What are some things we can do towards caring for Country?

As a beginning if you’ve never been a conservationist or a Greenie or a tree hugger or you don’t have a bush block you live in the city and you just want to help, join a Friends Group, get to know your local area.  I am currently an honorary member of over yeah close to 40 ‘Friends of’ groups they only asked me for well they’d ask me every weekend for for when they have their get togethers but I’m usually at one or another every weekend of the year teaching the ‘Friends of’ groups at a very very basic level to give them a taste of what I can pass on to them. If you want to go further than that but you don’t have the physical capabilities and this is an important one – not everybody can physically go and conduct fire, pester your local politician and ask for change. I’ve found that I can get plenty of supporters but unless you can get the government’s approval you will be hamstrung on what you’re trying to do so when I came back in uh 19 uh sorry 2015 uh and started to ask about doing Indigenous burning and I got knocked back I did start to go to the higher levels of government at the state government level and it was very hard to get my foot in the door so I reversed tactics and went down to the local community level particularly in people that were affected by 2009 because they are our neighbours and got them to start talking to the council politicians who then started to escalate um this new way of doing things this new way of knowing being and doing that has a place in today’s society and eventually from bottom up and top down there was a meeting of the minds in government which led to the Victorian Indigenous fire strategy uh now we are at the implementation stage so learn all you can, there are videos that get put out there when fires are conducted and there’s many interviews like this one that I’ve done talking about fire – type in Uncle Dave or type in Firesticks, just Firesticks and there’s a whole range of things you’ll find of what’s happening across country about how successful they are how socially engaging fire is how beneficial is for country and then petition petition petition petition at whatever level of government you think you may have influence. And yes if you’ve got money yes donate it to Firesticks that is the National Organisation which will bring fire back into country – don’t give it to the individual organisations, give it to Firesticks and and that money will then be distributed in a fair way where fire is actually happening on Country building up those the different mobs’ capacities. Some need more money more than others, we’re actually quite well equipped we do now have our own we still have to be fire fighters uh qualified for the insurance um so we have invested money from our contracts with general land management into our own fire trucks firefighting trailers running firefighting courses but when we’re out on Country burning we plan the burn we execute the burn we do the follow-up research on the burn so when the academics eventually get around to saying this is the methodology that needs to be done to care for Country then we’ll all walk across healthy country and we’ll all be healthier people for it.