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People and Country: Human impacts of bushfire and the benefits of Indigenous cultural burning

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September 23, 2020
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Wednesday 10:30, September 23rd 2020

The NSW Bushfire Risk Management Research Hub webinar series presents the research projects undertaken by the Hub to assist the NSW Bushfire Inquiry, 2020. The Hub supported the inquiry by providing analysis, technical and scientific advice and recommendations to ensure the inquiry has actionable, evidence based and rigorous information. 

The third webinar of the series is People and Country: Human impacts of bushfire and the benefits of Indigenous cultural burning.

This presentation will focus on cultural burning and the human impacts of the 2019-20 fire season. We will firstly discuss cultural burning, focusing on the importance of supporting Aboriginal women’s engagement and the benefits of fire for cultural revitalisation and wellbeing. Secondly, the impacts of smoke pollution on human health will be explored. Record breaking levels of smoke led to major health impacts, including an estimated 219 excess deaths and over $1 billion in associated costs in NSW.

We will finish with a discussion of the causes and consequences of the bushfires, including ignition sources, determinants of house loss and the socio-economic characteristics of exposed populations. The analysis highlights that lightning-ignited fires were responsible for the bulk of area burned and property losses. The house loss analysis revealed complex pattern of causality, including a modest reduction in impact where recent prescribed burning had occurred near houses. Demographic data reveal that the fires affected some of the most disadvantaged communities in NSW, including those with high proportions of Aboriginal residents.

Presenters: Vanessa Cavanagh (University of Wollongong), Katharine Haynes (University of Wollongong), Nicolas Borchers Arriagada (University of Tasmania), Owen Price (University of Wollongong).



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