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What does good fire look like? Combining traditional techniques with modern landscapes

A cultural burning expert has spoken of his dream for national grasp on what "good fire" looks, to "welcome it, love it and really really enjoy it", and value old knowledge amid increasing climate change risk.

Speaking at the Blak and Bright First Nations literary festival in Naarm on Sunday, Euahlayi man, Bhiamie Williamson and Dja Dja Wurrung and Yorta Yorta Elder, Uncle Rodney Carter said greater First Nations participation in fire management promises both cultural and practical impacts despite persisting red tape.

From his background in ranger programs in ACT and northern Australia, Mr Williamson said he's seen the benefit of reclaimed ownership of traditional practice and caring for country.

"One of the things colonisation has done to our people is rob us of our self-confidence," he said.

"It's a beautiful thing to see Aboriginal people - especially young people - holding these divergent spaces.

"You go into these spaces, you see people who are happy; they are really strong culturally. "And all the while, they are looking after this wonderful space."

Uncle Rodney, who's chief executive of Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation (DJAARA), said with more input "we can re-introduce something ancient here".

DJAARA have close to 40 strategic burns across their country planned for the end of summer.

"Five years ago we couldn't have done that. We were doing two or three," he said.

Uncle Rodney said being a "minority in the community" has brought its own barriers to collaboration.

Mr Williamson said the increasing threat and prevalence of bushfire disaster means there's no room for waiting around to act.

He said fire is "indelible" in the Australia landscape.

With that, appropriate action and community literacy on what is and isn't "good fire" is something to strive for.

Mr Williamson said Indigenous knowledge around fire could have a strong impact on the way Australia handles climate change.

"Perhaps the solutions and innovations can lie in our deep past," he said.

Both ended the talk reiterating the need for Australia to continue to invest and support ancient Indigenous practices, which had survived and thrived for thousands of years, with the long-term goal for all landscapes to be healthier, so it's safer to give fire.

"I'm proud to be part of people who have such a strong, traditional relationship with farming," Uncle Rodney said.

"I think it's us showing others: 'actually we do know what we're talking about.' But we need support, we need resourcing, we need to be empowered."

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