After almost 25-years working in land, conservation, fire and water management for various land and fire management agencies in Victoria and interstate, I am acutely aware of the need to identify and apply a holistic approach to the management of land, conservation, fire and people.
Having worked in operational delivery, district and regional programming and coordination, and statewide policy development, I am able to support a variety of needs, including:
I feel a strong connection to land and sea; so assisting Traditional Owners with management of Country is a natural extension of my work. Integrating traditional knowledge and practice with contemporary approaches to land, sea and fire management is a particular interest of mine.
‘Cultural burning’ is a key example of the integration of cultural lore with contemporary approaches to bushfire management. In this case, understanding government policy, procedures and approaches is equally important as understanding Traditional Owner aspirations for management of Country and self-determination.
Working with Traditional Owners on Country to achieve restoration of rights and redressing past inadequacies is also one of my passions. Continuing to build on the relationships I have established over years whilst working in government has been deeply fulfilling. I look forward to continuing this important work, with special knowledge of how to balance the regulatory needs of government with the principles of traditional custodianship.
Community development and engagement
In my experience, there are only three reasons we conduct ‘engagement’.
Firstly, because there's a project that places an obligation, whether moral, legislative, political or other, to engage with community or stakeholders. Secondly, to mitigate risk, which could be political, reputational, organisational, financial, etc.
The third reason is my area of true interest and informs the first two reasons for an integrated approach: to establish and maintain ongoing relationships built on trust, respect and rapport. This cultivation of goodwill is inherently risk-averse. And from a government perspective, when it comes to delivering or managing a project or managing ‘risk’, relationships are already established, so the conversation about its implementation becomes easy.
Having effective relationships built on mutual trust with Traditional Owners, for example, is foundational to achieving anything real. This approach adopts some of the fundamental principles of community development, including valuing local people, local systems, local processes and local cultures; and applying that professionally as well as personally in my own community.
My interest in bushfire management and fire ecology has spanned my entire career, having completed an Honors project investigating the ecological impacts of fire suppression operations on a small vegetation remnant, and volunteering as a firefighter with various fire brigades from a young age. These experiences left a deep impression.
Since then, I have always sought a holistic approach to bushfire planning and management that works towards multiple outcomes. Although I have had much experience in planned burning and fuel management, I firmly believe these are one part of a big picture and that we must look holistically to achieve effective outcomes for life and property protection, and community and ecosystem resilience.
Planning for one asset without due consideration of others may trade off some values. My experience in recent years has involved implementing the principles of multiple-criteria decision analysis, which ultimately leads to sound decisions that account for the broad range of interconnected outcomes.