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BREAKING AUSTRALIA: Moreland residents choose Indigenous word to replace council name linked to slavery

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Ace News Room Cutting Floor 29/06/2022

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#AceBreakingNews – A community in Melbourne’s inner north have decided on a new Indigenous name for their council after a push to replace a decades-old name linked to slavery.

Five men and a woman holding an inscribed piece of bark
City of Moreland councillors will meet on Sunday to approve Merri-bek as a new council name.(ABC News: Dana Morse)none

Moreland City Council will decide on Sunday whether to adopt the new name of Merri-bek, which means “rocky country” in the Woi-wurrung language. 

The change will come after a month-long survey period during which 6,315 members of the community chose from three options put forward by the Aboriginal Heritage Council.

Merri-bek beat out other options Jerrang (meaning leaf of tree) and Wa-dam-buk (meaning renew) comfortably, with more than half of respondents selecting it.

A diagram showing survey results for a new council name
Mark Riley said the survey has seen the highest level of engagement the council has had on a project.(Supplied: Moreland City Council)none

“We believe this is the most engagement we’ve ever had on a council project,” Moreland Mayor Mark Riley said.

“Changing our corporate name is an important step in our reconciliation and healing journey with the traditional owners of this land.”

Sunday’s special council meeting represents the first step in officially changing the name, with the renaming then needing to be approved by Minister for Local Government Shaun Leane. 

Approval will then need to be sought from Governor in Council Linda Dessau.

“It could take a few weeks or a few months after that for it to be decided,” Cr Riley said.

A man and boy standing near a pile of leaves on fire
The three name options were presented to council by Wurundjeri elders in a ceremony in May.(ABC News: Dana Morse)none

Cr Riley said that due to the “racist and offensive” nature of the current name, there was no possibility that the council would continue under its current title.

“I really can’t imagine that happening,” he said.

“We won’t be going back to normal.

“We’ll be really wanting to pursue a new name, one of these will have to be one of them.”

The likely name change will not come without a financial cost.

Major signage on buildings and facilities will need to be altered to reflect the change from Moreland to a new name, with $500,000 allocated over two years to make it happen.

A Moreland City Council sign
The council has allocated half a million dollars over two years to change signage.(ABC News: Dana Morse)none

The area was initially named in 1994 by the state government, when the Brunswick, Coburg and part of Broadmeadows council area merged to form the new “City of Moreland”.

“Moreland” was originally bestowed on the area by land speculator Farquhar McCrae in 1839, who named it after a Jamaican slave plantation run by his father and grandfather.

It is expected the council will begin changing its corporate name on digital materials and major signage later this year.

#AceNewsDesk report ………..Published: June.29:  2022:

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