Before COVID-19 Aunty Kali was working casually on weekends at her local markets – this was until the pandemic caused her hours to become scarce. Unfortunately, this meant the owners couldn’t afford to keep her on and she was now facing unemployment.
She signed up with Centrelink for assistance and was linked with employment service provider ETC for further support.
ETC Jobs Advisor Desi started digitally servicing Aunty Kali and could tell that she was very driven to find employment.
“So, she decided to work with a local community, Bindarrabi, to apply for a federal grant to continue some cultural burning and bush regeneration in the area,” explained Desi.
This type of grant is administered by an incorporated community organisation.
The Darling Downs Environment Council had offered to auspice such an application, so Bindarrabi and the DDEC put the grant application in last December in partnership with fire practitioner, Aunty Kali.
Auspicing is a way for individuals or unincorporated groups to gain government funding through existing organisations.
This would allow Aunty Kali to conduct burning and bush regeneration on Bindarrabi country, with the community’s participation.
The aim of this project was to keep the area safe from wildfire and to increase the health of plants and animals.
Bush regeneration practices include removing foreign weeds, conducting environmental burns, and maintaining native habitats around country.
The Bindarrabi Cultural Burning Program was granted $43,000 through the Bushfire Recovery for Wildlife and Habitat Community Grants Program administered by the Federal Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment.
Aunty Kali was over the moon, and ETC were happy to assist with employment related PPE gear like boots, work clothes, and a new chainsaw.
She was able to launch the Bindarrabi Cultural Burning Project, which offers participants the experience of learning and burning on country.
Bindarrabi was perfect for the grant with its close proximity to the Koreelah National Park.
Local schools have also invited her to present to the students, where she shares her knowledge to children who had been traumatised by the last round of bushfires in the Warwick and Maryvale areas.
Adding to her excitement, Aunty Kali was then offered a scholarship with Screenworks on ABC. This was a part of the Regional to Global Screen Forum Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Scholarship Program.
She went to the forum with documentary producer, Wendy Rogers, who is working closely with Aunty on the Cultural Burning program.
Also at that time, Aunty was interviewed on ABC radio, to talk about the cultural backburning that her community was preparing for.
Aunty Kali was thrilled for the opportunity to present, especially about the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women in the Cultural Burning and natural restoration program.
Beaming with pride about how far she’s come, Aunty Kali explained that this is only the start of her journey – she has many more opportunities coming up!
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