Research leader

Jessica Weir
Dr Jessica Weir Research Leader
Timothy Neale
Dr Timothy Neale Research Leader

Research team

Dr Will Smith Research Team
Dr Brian Cook Research Team
Oliver Costello Research Team
Jeremy Dore Research Team
Tara McGee
A/Prof Tara McGee Research Team
Annick Thomassin Research Team

End User representatives

Dean Freeman End-User
Owen Gooding End-User
Aidan Galpin End-User
Mike Wouters
Mike Wouters End-User
Rodney Carter End-User
Simon Curry End-User
David Nugent End-User
Kate White End-User
Simone Blair End-User
Trish Wall End-User
Mark Eccleston End-User
Rowan Foley End-User
Matthew Burns End-User

This project considered the challenges and opportunities arising out of engagements between Indigenous peoples and natural hazard and land management government agencies in southern Australia. The majority of this activity has focused on cultural burning, which has also been our focus.

Significantly, there is very limited existing research about these engagements, and limited public sector experience in engaging with Indigenous peoples. This constrains evidenced-based policy and practice and practitioner decision making. This lack of capacity was clear in the responses to the 2019-20 bushfires. 

The research team undertook qualitative research, primarily through forming partnerships with key practitioners working in this space and undertaking research activities that iteratively learnt from these partnerships. In this, researching both Indigenous and non-indigenous values has been important in order to navigate and analyse this intercultural context. 

The research findings are structured in two sections: the first presents the results from our literature review, the second presents a synthesis of the research findings arranged under six headings (unfamiliarity with the context itself, trust and partnerships, centring Country and First Peoples, administration and regulation, expert evidence and erasure, accounting and reporting), with recommended first steps for the natural hazard sector under each heading. Given previous sector and research practices, the suggested first steps require significant sector leadership and investment in Indigenous-led research.

Read the final report here.

View the Cultural burning in southern Australia illustrated booklet and posters

Year Type Citation
2021 Journal Article Freeman, D., Williamson, B. & Weir, J. Cultural burning and public sector practice in the Australian Capital Territory. Australian Geographer (2021). doi:https://doi.org/10.1080/00049182.2021.1917133
2021 Journal Article Smith, W., Neale, T. & Weir, J. Persuasion without policies: The work of reviving Indigenous peoples’ fire management in southern Australia. Geoforum 120, 82-92 (2021).
2021 Report McKemey, M., Neale, T. & Costello, O. Principles for enhanced collaboration between land and emergency management agencies and Indigenous peoples - green paper. (Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, 2021).
2021 Report Weir, J., Neale, T. & Smith, W. Hazards, culture and Indigenous communities – final project report. (Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, 2021).
2021 Report Weir, J., Freeman, D. & Williamson, B. Cultural burning in southern Australia. (Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, 2021).
2020 Book Chapter Weir, J., Sutton, S. & Catt, G. Natural Hazards and Disaster Justice: Challenges for Australia and Its Neighbours 299-317 (Palgrave Macmillan, 2020). doi:https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-15-0466-2_16
2020 Report Smith, W., Weir, J. & Neale, T. Hazards, culture and Indigenous communities – annual report 2018-2019. (Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, 2020).
2020 Report Williamson, B., Markham, F. & Weir, J. Aboriginal Peoples and the response to the 2019-2020 bushfires. (Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research, Australian National University, 2020). doi:https://doi.org/10.25911/ 5e7882623186c
2020 Report Weir, J., Smith, W. & Neale, T. Hazards, culture and indigenous communities: socio-institutional modules for utilisation. (Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, 2020).
2019 Journal Article Neale, T., Carter, R., Nelson, T. & Bourke, M. Walking together: a decolonising experiment in bushfire management on Dja Dja Wurrung country. Cultural Geographies 1, (2019).
2019 Report Smith, W., Weir, J. & Neale, T. Hazards, Culture and Indigenous Communities Annual Report 2017-2018. (Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, 2019).
2019 Report Weir, J. & Freeman, D. Fire in the south: a cross-continental exchange. (Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, 2019).
2018 Journal Article Thomassin, A., Weir, J. & Neale, T. The natural hazard sector's engagement with Indigenous peoples: a critical review of CANZUS countries. Geographical research (2018). doi:10.1111/1745-5871.12314
2018 Report Smith, W., Weir, J. & Neale, T. Southeast Australia Aboriginal fire forum. (Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, 2018).
2017 Conference Paper Rumsewicz, M. Research proceedings from the 2017 Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC and AFAC Conference. Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC & AFAC annual conference 2017 (Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, 2017).
Date Title Download Key Topics
18 Apr 2017 Hazards, Culture and Indigenous Communities PDF icon 273.08 KB (273.08 KB) indigenous communities, resilience, risk management
29 Jun 2017 Cultural burning PDF icon 5.35 MB (5.35 MB) communities, indigenous communities, prescribed burning
07 Jul 2017 Lightning presentation: hazards, culture and indigenous communities PDF icon 698.88 KB (698.88 KB) indigenous communities, resilience, risk management
31 Aug 2017 Fire Australia Issue Three 2017 PDF icon 5.22 MB (5.22 MB) child-centred, prescribed burning, severe weather
17 Apr 2018 Hazards, culture and Indigenous communities PDF icon 1.76 MB (1.76 MB) emergency management, indigenous communities, multi-hazard
09 Apr 2019 Coexisting with combustion: the future of bushfire management File 0 bytes (0 bytes) communities, fire, fire impacts
24 Sep 2019 Hazards, culture and Indigenous communities PDF icon 11.6 MB (11.6 MB) indigenous communities, multi-hazard
31 Jul 2020 Bushfire lessons from cultural burns fire, indigenous communities, land management
13 Jul 2021 Cultural burning in southern Australia: collaborations based on Indigenous leadership PDF icon 340 KB (340 KB) indigenous communities, resilience, risk management
13 Jul 2021 Cultural burning in southern Australia video: collaborations based on Indigenous leadership File 0 bytes (0 bytes) indigenous communities, resilience, risk management
15 Jul 2021 Collaboration based on Indigenous leadership indigenous communities, Northern Australia, resilience
08 Sep 2021 Fire Australia Issue Three 2021 PDF icon 10.72 MB (10.72 MB) communities, indigenous communities, recovery
29 Sep 2021 Cultural burning in southern Australia indigenous communities, land management, prescribed burning
Hazards, culture and aboriginal peoples in southern Australia
30 Jun 2017
This new action‐research project will:Investigate the hazard priorities of diverse Aboriginal communities in...
Intercultural collaboration on Aboriginal country
19 Sep 2018
This innovative 3-year research project explores cultural difference and similarity to gain insights into...
27 Aug 2019
We are investigating the existing and emerging engagements between the natural hazards sector and diverse...
31 Aug 2020
Key findings: Cultural or traditional burning requires takingthe long view about how to live with each other...