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The brick façade of the Moreland city council building.
Photograph: Courtesy ABC News | Dana Morse

Moreland council to vote on adopting a new Indigenous name

Residents have pushed to drop the original name that's linked to slavery in favour of a traditional Woi-wurrung phrase

Adena Maier
Written by
Adena Maier

When Melbourne was first settled by colonisers in 1835, it set off a frenzy of land speculators racing to get their hands on cheap plots of land. Among them was Farquhar McCrae, who purchased the land between Moonee Ponds and Sydney Road in 1839 without the permission of the traditional Indigenous owners of the land. To make matters worse, he named his new property Moreland after his family's Jamaican slave plantation.

This grim history didn't stop the Victorian government from naming the inner-north council Moreland in 1994, but nearly three decades later, residents have decided that it's time to shed that name once and for all. Moreland council consulted with the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung Cultural Heritage Aboriginal Corporation, and Elders offered up three new name options: Wa-dam-buk (renew), Merri-bek (rocky country) and Jerrang (leaf of tree). And after conducting a month-long survey and receiving more than 6,000 votes, Merri-bek came out on top with 59 per cent of the vote. 

The council will vote on Sunday, July 4 to approve this name change request, and while the move appears to be supported by a majority of councillors, there are a few who have expressed their disapproval. In an interview with Sky News, Independent councillor Oscar Yildiz called the proposal "ridiculous", claiming it was a waste of taxpayer's money.

If the council approves the name change, the proposition will then need to be signed off by local government minister Melissa Horne. With Horne's approval, then begins the two-year process of altering signage of buildings and facilities. 

RECOMMENDED: Learn ten Boon Wurrung words and their meanings from Aunty Fay Stewart-Muir.

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