Colin Atkinson, Bryan Suckling and Phil Hawkey. Photo: ANDREW PERRYMAN

TRADITIONAL burning is likely to cement its place in Victoria’s planned burns regime after 30 of the state’s CFA members complete an indigenous fire training program in northern Queensland next week.

And a traditional owner from the Wolithiga clan in Echuca believes it may also lead to more Aboriginal people volunteering in the CFA itself.

Colin Atkinson, who volunteered with the authority from 18 years old but who has recently had a break from service, will also attend the Jigija training program on land in the Gulf of Carpentaria where the traditional owners have never stopped managing their land with traditional burning.

In Victoria, the practice has recently been reintroduced. It disappeared after settlement but local indigenous leaders are relearning the skills which involve burning at a cooler temperature and in a mosaic pattern.

Mr Atkinson said the object was to replace nutrients in the ground and replenish food for native animals.

The method that has dominated in Victoria since settlement has focussed on reducing the risk of bushfires by burning fuel loads at higher temperatures.

Bryan Suckling, CFA District 20 operations officer, will also attend the week-long course in Queensland. He said the course material was important to learn to acknowledge respect for Aboriginal culture in Victorian land management.

Upon returning, participants, who are both indigenous and non-indigenous CFA members, will be expected to use their knowledge to include traditional burning practices in planned burning programs.

Mr Suckling said about six of the 30 students were from Bendigo.

The group flies out on Sunday to start the course next week.