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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.
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.
- The naming proposal must be prepared according to the relevant sections of the Naming rules for Victoria.
- Preparation will include identifying the road, feature or locality that is to be named or renamed and considering what type of naming process would be suitable.
- If a naming authority is considering using an Aboriginal name(s) in the proposal, it must consult the relevant Traditional Owner group(s) to determine an appropriate name and receive consent for the use of that name.
For what to include in a proposal visit start a naming proposal
Determine Aboriginal group/s to participate in consultation process
If a naming authority is considering using an Aboriginal name or names in the proposal, it must consult the relevant Traditional Owner group(s) to that area to determine an appropriate name and receive consent for the use of that name.
- It is the responsibility of the naming authority to determine which Traditional Owner group(s) to consult.
- When the naming authority identifies more than one group that must be consulted it should establish a consultative group with which to liaise and determine an appropriate name or names for the proposal.
- If the naming proposal covers more than one Registered Aboriginal Party, you will need to request the Traditional Owner Group(s) nominate members to participate in a special consultative group with members of two or more groups.
- The Traditional Owner groups will decide who should be appointed to the consultative group.
- Selected members of the consultative group must have consent from their community to make decisions on naming or renaming roads, features or localities.
Refer to pages 71-76 of Naming rules for places in Victoria.
- It is important that members represent their Traditional Owner and/or broader Aboriginal group and take responsibility for building awareness within their community of the proposed naming or renaming.
- Community awareness can be built through media, public notices and meetings.
Refer to How to engage or pages 71-76 of the Naming rules.
Feedback to consultative group and Aboriginal community
- The broader Aboriginal community may provide feedback to the consultative group.
- The consultative group should establish a process to identify an appropriate name or names for the proposal and determine a method for achieving group consensus on the final name(s) to be endorsed and provided to the naming authority.
- If consensus is not reached on the name, the consultative group must contact the naming authority and/or OGN to discuss whether or not further support is required to reach a decision.
- When a final decision is made, the naming authority and consultative group should work collaboratively to promote the naming proposal to the wider community.
Once the consultative group endorses the name(s) and provides it to the naming authority for processing, the general process for submitting a naming or renaming proposal applies.
All names, regardless of their status, will be held in the VICNAMES register.
Once approved, the process involves recording the Aboriginal name as:
- Registered or Dual – recognised as the official name in use and shown on standard Vicmaps for the area
- Traditional or Historic – also recognised on specialised maps for search by researchers
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.
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
- Native Title Act 1993 as native title holders
- Traditional Owner Settlement Act 2010 as Traditional Owner group entities, or
- Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006 as Registered Aboriginal Parties.
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.
You can help to build awareness and gain feedback for consultation through:
- 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.
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
- 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