New indigenous names proposed for Moreland Council

Riley echoed Gardiner’s sentiments, saying it was “an opportunity to give this multi-cultural community a name we can all be proud of and start righting the wrong of European settlement.”

A motion to change the council’s name before the end of 2022 passed by a vote of six to three last year after a delegation briefed Riley and Moreland CEO Cathy Henderson on the name’s disturbing history.

Moreland was the name of a Jamaican sugar plantation owned by the family of Scotsman Farquhar McCrae, which held as many as 700 slaves at any one time in the decades after it was founded in the 1780s.

McCrae arrived in Melbourne in 1839 and after dispossessing the indigenous owners of a parcel of land he purchased that stretched from Moonee Ponds Creek to Sydney Road, he named it Moreland in honor of his family’s estate. Great Britain had made slavery illegal in 1833.

The Moreland name, which is also used on a prominent street in inner North Melbourne, was assigned to the council in 1994 as part of the Kennett Government mergers. The area includes the suburbs of Brunswick, Coburg and Pascoe Vale.

Charging

Over the next month, the three proposed names will be discussed with residents and the meaning of each name will be carefully explained to help inform their choice, Riley said.

An important indigenous figure, Gary Murray, said that his preference was Merri-bek because it connotes strength.

“I have always believed that it is a blood, a balloon. We are all human beings, we all have human rights and we have to protect them. This process started by the City of Moreland and the Wurundjeri First Nations group is quite powerful.”

A name is expected to be officially chosen in July after local residents and members of the indigenous community express their opinions online or by mail.

The council said assets such as street and park signs, rubbish bins and staff uniforms would be phased in within existing budget allocations “and asset renewal programs over a 10-year period”.

Between $250,000 and $500,000 each year for two financial years have been set aside to make the changes.

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