Dianne Nicholls is the Cultural Officer with the Land and Sea Office in Mapoon. She and Ronnie Guivarra were instrumental to the success of the 2014 Indigenous Fire Workshop and ensuring the Taepithiggi Traditional Owners cultural protocols were followed.

Welcome and farewell ceremonies were held which included smoking and dance. These ceremonies helped settle the participants into the special Taepithiggi country for the duration of the event. This was particularly important to do because no one (Traditional Owners) had been at the site and walked the land for a long time.

Dianne said the workshop gave a clearer picture about the work of Rangers and Cultural Officers to the broader community. The workshops demonstrated that TOs can manage on their own and have the capacity to walk about on Country and provided an opportunity for knowledge sharing with other groups.

July is the traditional month for burning the country surrounding Mapoon, and rangers, with the support of TOs, local council and the wider community, have a solid fire management plan. The community has a strong junior ranger program, helping the younger generations prepare for the responsibility of future management of land and sea.

Mapoon’s Healthy Country Plan has identified fire as the biggest issue in their community. Big fires have had a profound effect on community health and cultural sites as well as damaging the ecosystems they impact. Through their planning processes, the Mapoon community is responding to this through implementing fire management regimes in the areas where they can.

Dianne believes there should be more workshops like the Fire Workshop, as it creates connection and unity.

“This workshop shows that we are all compassionate to the Country.” she said.