Meet the Karla Katitjin Trainees

Karla Katitjin Trainees - Mark Haupt, Ryan Tate and Dee-Anne Salmon
Karla Katitjin Trainees - Mark Haupt, Ryan Tate and Dee-Anne Salmon

The Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) continues to reinforce its commitment to bridging the gap through its Karla Katitjin Traineeship Program, a new initiative that also fosters cultural connection and creates employment and training opportunities for First Nations Australians.

In January 2024, the Bushfire Centre of Excellence (BCoE) launched the Traineeship Program, welcoming three passionate trainees to the team: Mark Haupt from Mithica Country in Queensland, Ryan Tate descending from Wiilman Country in the Upper Great Southern region and Dee-Anne Salmon, a local Traditional Owner from Bindjareb Country.

The Karla Katitjin Traineeship Program, now in its second round, provides a pathway for First Nations Australians to develop valuable skills, knowledge and experience within the fire and emergency services sector.

The trainees have been busy participating in a range of fieldwork that included supporting the DFES Bushfire Mitigation Branch with critical mitigation activities to help reduce bushfire risk in bushfire-prone areas across the metropolitan area. They've also undertaken a range of facility, asset management and maintenance activities, as well as promoting cultural awareness within the BCoE.

Their journey blends practical application with a varied and targeted training schedule. To date, they've participated in a diverse range of short courses, including introductory training for volunteer firefighters, weed spraying, chemical handling, chainsaw operation, mower maintenance, and first aid. These courses, many nationally recognised, not only equip them with essential skills to work in the fire and emergency sector but will also provide a solid foundation for future employment opportunities.

Mark, Ryan and Dee-Anne also had the opportunity to enhance their fire skills and knowledge by participating in a range of small Cultural Burns on Bindjareb and Nowanup Country, alongside Traditional Owners and the BCoE Cultural Fire Program team. This hands-on experience is the first step in building practical fire knowledge which will be further strengthened through future planned and cultural burns.

On reflection of the Nowanup Cultural Burn, Trainee, Ryan said.  “At the end of the burn, Elder, Uncle Eugene gathered everyone for a debrief and we went around the circle with each person contributing one word from the experience, some memorable words were special, blessed and grateful.”

In June 2024, the Minister of Emergency Services, Hon. Stephen Dawson MLC attended the BCoE to meet the trainees. The visit included Dee-Anne performing a Traditional Water Blessing and spending some time in the Yarning Circle hearing from Ryan and Mark.

The trainees are enrolled to commence a Certificate III in Conservation and Ecosystem Management at a local TAFE commencing in July 2024. 

By providing First Nations Australians with the skills, knowledge and experience they need to work in the fire and emergency sector, the Traineeship Program is helping to build employment opportunities and pathways for both individuals and communities. As these trainees graduate, they will not only strengthen the emergency services sector, but also play a crucial role in safeguarding the land they call home.

For more information visit or email