Tomorrow’s Country: Practice-oriented principles for Indigenous cultural fire research in south-east Australia

Authors: Andrea Rawluk, Timothy Neale, Will Smith, Tim Doherty, Euan Ritchie, Jack Pascoe, Minda Murray, Rodney Carter, Mick Bourke, Scott Falconer, Dale Nimmo, Jodi Price, Matt White, Paul Bates, Nathan Wong, Trent Nelson, Amos Atkinson, and Deborah Webster

Published in: Geographical Research


First Nations peoples are revitalising diverse cultural fire practices and knowledge. Institutional and societal recognition of these practices is growing. Yet there has been little academic research on these fire practices in south-east Australia, let alone research led by Aboriginal people.

We are a group of Indigenous and settler academics, practitioners, and experts focused on cultural fire management in the Victorian Loddon Mallee region. Using interviews and workshops, we facilitated knowledge sharing and discussion. In this paper, we describe three practice-oriented principles to develop and maintain collaborations across Aboriginal groups, researchers, and government in the Indigenous-led revitalisation of fire on Country: relationships (creating reciprocity and trust), Country (working with place and people), and power (acknowledging structures and values). Collaborations based on these principles will be unique to each temporal, social, cultural, and geographic context.

Considering our findings, we acknowledge the challenges that exist and the opportunities that emerge to constructively hold space to grow genuinely collaborative research that creates change. We suggest that the principles we identify can be applied by anyone wanting to form genuine collaborations around the world as the need for social–ecological justice grows.

Rawluk A, Neale T, Smith W, Doherty T, Ritchie EG, Pascoe J, Murray M, Carter R, Bourke M, Falconer S, Nimmo D, Price J, White M, Bates P, Wong N, Nelson T, Atkinson A, Webster D (2023) Tomorrow’s Country: Practice‐oriented principles for Indigenous cultural fire research in south‐east Australia. Geographical Research PDF DOI