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How to develop a naming proposal using Aboriginal language

We encourage naming authorities to consider local Aboriginal names for new names to roads, features and localities.

We also remind naming authorities that they must engage with the local Traditional Owners before making any decisions on the use of their language.

For community

If you’re a member of the community and would like to make a proposal please visit how to name a place.

Process for naming authorities

Naming authorities wishing to name a road, feature or locality using an Aboriginal language must follow the steps below.

How to engage

Identifying Traditional Owner groups

If a naming proposal takes place on Traditional Owner Country where there is formal recognition, the naming authority must engage with those Traditional Owner groups.

Visit the state-wide formally recognised Traditional Owner map.

In areas where a formally recognised Traditional Owner group(s) is not identified, the naming authority must consult all relevant Traditional Owner groups that have a shared interest within that area.

Traditional Owner groups may outline the different costs of their services such as researching, participating in meetings and using Traditional Owner language. For more information on working with Traditional Owner groups visit the naming rules.

Working groups

It is recommended that the naming authority should engage with each of these Traditional Owner groups separately unless the Traditional Owners notify the naming authority otherwise.  In addition, a working group should be established to liaise and determine an appropriate name or names for the proposal.

Types of Traditional Owner groups

Naming proposals should be directed to the relevant Traditional Owner group(s).

There is a diverse range of Aboriginal organisations in Victoria. These include:

  • local Aboriginal networks
  • health organisations
  • arts organisations
  • local advisory groups

In Victoria, Traditional Owner groups may be legally recognised through the

In areas where a Traditional Owner group has not been legally recognised, please contact First Peoples - State Relations for advice about the relevant groups to consult.

Building awareness

You can help to build awareness and gain feedback for consultation through:

Media

  • Aboriginal radio stations, like 3KND 1503 AM
  • newspapers, like the Koori Mail and National Indigenous Times
  • local newspapers

Whatever the method, it is important to show how the community can provide feedback to members of the consultative group.

Public notices

You can also place notices in public places, for example:

  • the site to be named or renamed
  • Traditional Owner organisations (including their premises, websites and newsletters, where applicable), Aboriginal co-operatives or organisations
  • cultural centres
  • Koorie Open Door Education Schools
  • local council offices
  • libraries
  • TAFEs and universities
  • community centres and learning exchanges
  • shops with community notice boards.

Aboriginal Community decision-making processes

Ensure you engage early with the relevant Traditional Group/s to better understand their governance structures on what decisions need to be made to successfully incorporate an Aboriginal place name on their Country.

In some instances, Traditional Owners may hold meetings with the wider community that they represent (or raise the naming proposal during regular community meetings).

Their communities should be encouraged to provide input or feedback into the process.

Connecting to frameworks

The Victorian Aboriginal Affairs Framework 2018-2023

The Victorian Aboriginal Affairs Framework 2018-2023 (VAAF) is the Victorian Government framework for working with Traditional Owners, organisations and the wider community to drive action and improve outcomes.

The use of Aboriginal language in the naming of roads, features and localities supports the following VAAF goals:

  • Goal 18 Aboriginal land, water and cultural rights are realised
  • Goal 19 Aboriginal culture and language are supported and celebrated

Naming authorities are encouraged to indicate how individual naming proposals support VAAF goals when compiling a naming proposal.

Naming authorities can also consider how to increase the number of places named using Aboriginal languages by developing strategies to address specific issues in the local community.

For example, naming authorities can add place naming to Reconciliation Action Plans, and may also have policies to prioritise the endorsement of Aboriginal language in place naming.

Page last updated: 30/11/21