Surf Coast Shire Council is seeking public feedback on its place naming policy following amendments which include increasing focus on gender equity and Traditional Owner representation.
Council resolved at its March meeting to endorse the updated policy for public exhibition and comment during April.
The policy now includes a previously accompanying policy for plaques and memorials, and:
- Changes considerations of naming after people, including opting against naming after living people, and discouraging naming after deceased people.
- Encourages consideration of gender equity when initiating and assessing naming proposals.
- Encourages consideration of adopting First Nations language names where appropriate, provided consultation has been undertaken with any relevant Registered Aboriginal Party or Traditional Owner group.
- Streamlines naming approval processes.
The policy applies to the naming of parks, reserves, roads, facilities and features, and all plaques or memorials installed within Surf Coast Shire.
“The place naming and plaques and memorials policies were due for review. It is important that they are updated to provide for a consistent and contemporary approach to our naming approvals process, reflecting our cultural identity and diversity,” Cr Rose Hodge said.
“As part of that we have increased focus on gender equity and Traditional Owners with the hope of easing some imbalances.
“As things stand our town names are four times more likely to be derived from a male rather than a female, roads are three times more likely and parks twice as likely, and we have no information indicating that gender diverse people have been commemorated with a naming at any time.
“Unfortunately we are less certain about names with Traditional Owner origins. Council has focused on acknowledging Traditional Owners through the naming of community buildings in recent years, including Kurrambee Myaring Community Centre, meaning ‘merry laugh, here in this place’, Wurdi Baierr Stadium, meaning ‘big gathering place’.”
The policy discourages naming after deceased people in recognition that community attitudes and opinions can change over time.
In circumstances where naming after a deceased person or family group is being considered, aspects to be assessed include significance of contribution to community, achievements, history and association with an area and the submission’s alignment with other policy principles.
People can view the policy and provide feedback via surfcoast.vic.gov.au/placenaming.
Feedback will be reviewed before a final policy is presented to Council to consider for adoption.