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Victor Steffensen – Lead Fire Practitioner

Victor is an Indigenous writer, filmmaker, musician and consultant applying traditional knowledge in a contemporary context. He is a descendant of the Tagalaka clan from North Queensland. Much of Victor’s work has been based on the arts and reviving traditional knowledge values, particularly Aboriginal fire management, with Aboriginal communities and non-Indigenous Australians. He is the co-founder of the Firesticks Alliance and the National Indigenous Fire Workshop, which involves a large community network across Australia and internationally. Victor holds an Honorary Doctor of Science and is the author of the ground breaking book, Fire Country.

Victor is pictured on Kabi Kabi Country, credit Jennifer Oliphant.

 

Peta Standly resize resizeDr Peta-Marie Standley – Training Services and Research Manager

For over two decades Peta has worked alongside Indigenous people supporting them in the documentation, transfer, monitoring and communication of their Cultural Fire knowledge. As a Cultural Fire ecologist, her PhD research focused on transformational research practice in Indigenous knowledge domains, while undertaking in-depth documentation of two Senior Kuku Thaypan Elders traditional Cultural Fire knowledge. Her work also supported the co-development of the Firesticks National Indigenous Fire Workshops led by Dr. Tommy George and Victor Steffensen. Prior to and during her involvement in this work she engaged with Indigenous communities in Cape York, Wet Tropics, Northern Gulf bio-regions and more broadly across Australia in support of caring for Country and natural resource initiatives. She has a strong knowledge of protocol and ethics requirements when working with Indigenous Australians and broader community stakeholders. She has supported the development of the Firesticks Alliance since its inception.

Peta is pictured on Kuku Thaypan Country, Cape York Peninsula, credit Ben Lister.

 

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Rachael Cavanagh – Community Partnerships and Stakeholders Engagement Manager

Rachael Cavanagh is a Minyungbal mibany from the Yugambeh/Bundjalung nations of South East Qld and Northern NSW whose passion lies in uplifting People and preserving Country and Culture. Working in the senior leadership team as the Community Partnerships and Stakeholders Engagement Manager at Firesticks Alliance Indigenous Corporation.

Rachael studied at Deakin University with an undergraduate of Health, Postgraduate in Natural and Cultural resource management and Executive Ready – Women in Leadership. Her extensive postgraduate and applied knowledge in Aboriginal Cultural Heritage, Contemporary and Traditional Land Management, and Cultural Fire Practices has culminated in her professional career.

Rachael’s diverse professional background includes working within the private sector and all levels of Government, specifically working in the environmental sector. Rachael has most recently been active in her local community as a consultant and a blaktivist, providing strategic advice in bringing blak issues to the forefront and solutions to mitigate these barriers. Rachael was a co-founder for the Djinders DV support services and is the Chair of the Clarence Valley Women’s Refuge. Recently focussing on local strategic planning by serving on a variety of boards and advisory groups. Rachael is cultural advisor to many schools and community groups, providing support in building capacity and empowering First Nations communities by supporting growth, training and economic development opportunities.

Rachael is pictured on Nunnawal Country, credit unknown.

 

Jess resizedJessica Wegener – Learning and Certification Coordinator

Jessica Wegener is a Ngiyampaa Wangaaypuwan Pillarkilu Mayi, she pays her respects to all that have come into her life and shaped her learning pathways and knowledge. Jessica has a diploma in Indigenous land management, small business and project management and has undertaken an undergraduate degree in Environmental Science.

Jessica is a former Co-Chairperson of the Firesticks Alliance board and one of the Founding directors of the organisation. She is also a Junior board member for the jointly managed Mount Grenfell Historic Site and a board member of Mirring Aboriginal Women’s Group that aims to restore Womens practices.

Jessica worked in Land Rights for a number of years to progress economic opportunities for Aboriginal communities through balancing their social, cultural, environmental and economic growth capacity to deliver land management opportunities that are supportive of revitalising Traditional Knowledge in healing Country.

Jessica started developing the model for mentoring the next generation of Associate Indigenous Fire Practitioners in 2018 with Victor Steffensen and Dr Peta Standley which has resulted in two pilots in the Hunter Region developing formal accredited pathways to acquire skills and knowledge that support the implementation of cultural burning in contemporary land management.

Jessica is pictured on Djabugay Country, credit Talei Elu.

 

dan resizeDan Morgan, Southern New South Wales Regional Coordinator

Dan Morgan is Djiringanj Yuin Traditional Custodian. Dan has 18 years’ experience working with NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, where he gained his qualifications as a Remote area Crew Leader. Dan has sat on the Biamanga Board of Management as Traditional Owner Rep for 7 years, 2 years as the Deputy Chair, during this time Dan gained experience in Part4A Park management. Dan has also spent 3 years working for South East Local Land Services as Aboriginal Community Support Officer, where he was involved in supporting communities with Traditional land management practice and incorporating the recognition of cultural values into government agency management plans, Dan has gained qualification in certificate IV Project Management and certificate III in Conservation Land Management.

In 2010/2011 whilst representing the Biamanga Board of Management, Dan had the opportunity to meet Victor Steffensen at a workshop he attended at Cape York, since this day Dan’s perception of fire implementation changed and has been an advocate for cultural fire since.

Dan is pictured on Yuin Country, credit Vanessa Milton.

 

leet resizeLeeton Lee – South East Queensland Regional Coordinator 

Leeton is a descendent of Thungutti, Bundjalung and Mualgal peoples. He has a background in youth work/community services and cultural education over the past 9 years and is also a Volunteer Firefighter with Tamborine Mountain Rural Fire Service where he is responsible for burn planning and assessment of all landscape burns. Leeton is Firesticks Regional Coordinator for South East Queensland.

Leeton is pictured on Kabi Kabi Country, credit Jennifer Oliphant.

 

 

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Adrian Webster – Associate Indigenous Fire Practitioner Southern New South Wales

Adrian Webster known as ado, is a proud Yuin-Thunghutti murrin (person). he was born in Naora (Nowra) on the banks of Bungalii (the Shoalhaven river). he has spent his life growing up on the south coast of NSW where he will always remain learning and sharing stories,songs and dances that connect him strongly to the ocean as a katungal murrin (saltwater person) and the land as he continues to uphold his responsibilities to love, respect and look after the land, water and sky and all life that inhabit it.

Ado is pictured on Yuin Country, credit Vera Hong.

 

 

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Jane Yettica – Communications Coordinator 

Jane Yettica is a proud Minyungbal, Thunghutti and Tanuatu (Vanuatu) woman with kinship connections to Mununjali Country. She has extensive experience in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community engagement, communications and project management. Jane’s professional background includes ten years at the University of Wollongong supporting Indigenous students to succeed and advocating for the inclusion of Indigenous perspectives at every level of the University. More recently, Jane has worked in Indigenous health promotion across NSW, where she produced the First Nations entries for Sydney Mardi Gras in 2020 and 2021. She is currently undertaking a Master in Business Administration specialising in social impact at UNSW.

Jane is pictured on Minyungbal Country, credit Courte Marsh.

 

Rachel Steffensen – EA to Lead Fire Practitioner

Rachel is a proud descendant of the Tagalaka clan from North Queensland and Torres Strait Islander women from Darnley (Erub) Island. She is currently living on the lands of the Wurundjeri and Boonrwung Peoples of the Kulin Nation. Rachel’s career has been dedicated to supporting diversity and inclusion within the human resources and recruitment sector.

Rachel has had exposure to all aspects of the employee lifecycle and is a strong advocate for culturally appropriate employment, recruitment and training services for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Rachel is passionate about her cultures, education and healing Country.

 

Michelle resizeMichelle Kovacevic – Program Manager

Michelle is a communications specialist and program manager with a passion for listening, learning and supporting people to share their stories. She’s got a decade of experience working cross-culturally in senior program management roles, assisting rapidly growing organisations in Australia and internationally to establish systems and procedures that streamline operations.

Michelle is currently Program Manager at the Firesticks Alliance, where she supports the team to develop and deliver Cultural Fire projects across Australia. In 2015, Michelle co-founded the Youth in Landscapes Initiative – a global movement of 60,000 young people bringing positive change for the sustainability of their landscapes. She has also helped young farmers around the world access mentoring and investment for their ideas, and coordinated a national movement to help people new to Australia build trust, belonging and connection with their neighbours over a shared meal.

Michelle is pictured on Taungurung country, credit unknown.

 

debbieDebbie Gibson – Office Administrator

Debbie is a solution focussed, proactive & results driven Office Manager with experience in public, private & not for profit sectors in Australia, the United Kingdom & South Africa. In addition to over 30 years’ experience in business support, she has also gained an Advanced Diploma of Management (HR), Diplomas of both Business and Management, a Certificate IV in Front Line Management and is a Rehabilitation & Return to Work Co-ordinator.

Debbie’s expertise lies in her ability to streamline and manage business processes. She is passionate about HR and business innovation.

Debbie is pictured on Quandamooka Country, credit Michael Gibson.