Renaming Batman Park
With support from Wurundjeri Elders from the Wurundjeri Tribal Land Compensation and Cultural Heritage Council ('Wurundjeri Council') we held four community consultations to illuminate the many connections between the Aboriginal heritage and history of this area, and to hear the community's feedback on the renaming.
A comprehensive engagement and consultation process occurred from early July to early September to gauge the interest and openness of the community to the name change.
Opportunities to ‘have your say’ were extensively promoted across the municipality, including:
- Council’s website and social media channels (Facebook and Twitter),
- Darebin Community News,
- Northcote and Preston Leader newspapers,
- Koori Mail newspaper,
- nearby train stations,
- route 86 & 11 trams,
- real estate boards in three sites including in Batman Park
- 3KND radio.
We wish to thank everyone who took part in the consultation process and had their say on the renaming of Batman Park.
Hundreds of residents attended the four open community conversations in July and August to hear from four Wurundjeri Elders who spoke about the Park’s renaming to reflect the area’s Wurundjeri history and responded to questions from the audience.
Three new names were proposed by Council for consideration by the community. These were Be Be Jern, Billibellary and Gumbri, all significant Elders in the Wurundjeri Tribe:
Be Be Jern is the person from whom all contemporary Wurundjeri families are descended. He was the father of William Barak and one of eight Wurundjeri leaders present at the signing of the Batman Treaty in 1835. Be Be Jern was a Ngurungaeta, a tribal leader or head man. Ngurungaeta is a Woi wurrung word - the traditional language of the Wurundjeri people.
Billibellary was a Wurundjeri tribal leader present at the signing of the Batman treaty. He was a leading song-maker and an astute and diplomatic leader, negotiating with the colonial government to protect the Kulin clans from starvation brought on by the loss of lands and forced abandonment of their cultural practices and traditional way of life.
Gumbri, also known as Jessie Hunter, was a much loved and respected Wurundjeri Elder. Her name means ‘white dove’ in Woi wurrung. She was the last girl born on the Coranderrk Aboriginal Reserve in Healesville and had a great passion for Wurundjeri people and Country with a special interest in bush foods and medicines.
Some key findings from the consultation process
A total of 354 surveys were received from community members between mid-July and the start of September 2016.The findings indicated that there is significant community support for the renaming of Batman Park.
Of the survey responses received:
- 290 (82%) of respondents lived in the Darebin municipality and just over half (54%) lived in proximity to Batman Park (Northcote, Thornbury and Alphington).
- 292 of all respondents (83%) supported a name change, 47 (13%) wanted the name to remain Batman Park and 15 (4%) had no particular preference.
- Of the respondents who were supportive of a name change, 180 (62%) preferred the name Gumbri. A further 72 (25%) preferred the name Billibellary and 40 (13%) preferred the name Be Be Jern.
- 8% of respondents identified as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander. Over half (55%) of respondents were aged between 25 and 44 years while 30% of respondents were aged 45+ years and 15% were aged between 16 and 24 years.
- The great majority of residents strongly reaffirmed the value of Batman Park to them. Nearly 90% chose to comment on what is significant to them about the Park, reflecting the very high value and esteem placed on the Park by many residents.
Next Steps in the renaming of Batman Park
Findings from the community consultations have now been reported to Darebin Council and to the Wurundjeri Council.
The Wurundjeri Council has given its support to the name change and affirmed the name Gumbri. Darebin Council is now undertaking the statutory process of renaming Batman Park.
A Place Naming Committee will be formed to guide the statutory process. Residents living in a 500 metre radius from Batman Park will receive formal notification of the change in name and may provide final feedback on the proposed name Gumbri Park.
An update on time lines will be provided shortly.
Renaming the Federal Electoral Division of Batman
Every seven years, the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) reviews federal electoral boundaries. This is formally known as a redistribution process. As part of the redistribution process, the AEC can also consider name changes to existing federal divisions/electorates.
Any interested individual, group or organisation can make a written submission suggesting a name change once the date for public submissions is announced. (Information on how to make a submission is provided below.)
On 18 October, 2017, the AEC announced the public could begin lodging its submissions and has until 17 November, 2017, to do so.
We have lodged a formal written submission requesting the renaming of the Batman electorate. It is proposing the name be changed to Simon Wonga. (More information on Simon Wonga below.)
Darebin Council has the support and endorsement of the Wurundjeri Tribe Land and Compensation Cultural Heritage Council Aboriginal Corporation (Wurundjeri Council), the Darebin Aboriginal Advisory Committee, and Yarra City Council in making the submission. Yarra Council supports the submission because it is consistent with Yarra’s long history and commitment to reconciliation.
In December 2016 and February 2017, Darebin City Council formally resolved to work with the Wurundjeri Council and other Aboriginal leaders to change the name of the federal electorate of Batman to Simon Wonga.
Since then, Council has communicated its intentions and provided updates and information on the redistribution and renaming process via Darebin Community News and Council’s website.
Darebin is lodging the submission as part of its commitment to reconciliation, and achieving a shared, inclusive and reconciled national identity. The submission is also underpinned by the Victorian Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 which seeks to respect and promote the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.
John Batman was a grazier and explorer. He is considered one of Melbourne’s founders. He has also been associated with Indigenous land dispossession. Batman convinced Wurundjeri elders to sign over more than 200,000ha of ancestral land in exchange for blankets, flour and tools. He was widely criticised for the treaty, and colonial powers quickly annulled it saying Batman did not have the authority to sign such a treaty. In Tasmania, Batman was involved in the murder of Aboriginal people.
The legacy of John Batman is strongly integrated in Victoria where there are currently 23 places named after John Batman, and four commemorative markers.
The Wurundjeri Council proposed Simon Wonga as the new name for the electorate because it better reflects the Traditional Owners and is respectful of the families that make up the Wurundjeri community. Simon Wonga remains an unfamiliar figure for many people outside the Aboriginal community.
He was an important Aboriginal leader, who became a Ngurungaeta or 'head man' of the Wurundjeri people in the mid-19th century, at a time when their future was uncertain. In 1835, when he was nine-years-old, Simon Wonga was with his father when he met John Batman. He also witnessed the signing of the Batman Treaty.
Simon Wonga helped his people face the loss of their traditional way of life, and achieved his vision for an Aboriginal settlement at Coranderrk near Healesville. At the time, it became the most successful Aboriginal mission in Australia with a thriving farming community, school, bakery and butcher.
To learn more about Simon Wonga, see the Victorian Aboriginal Honour Roll.
The Division of Batman
The federal electorate or Division of Batman was created in 1906, replacing the Division of Northern Melbourne. Batman is located in Melbourne’s northern suburbs and stretches through three local government areas: Yarra, Darebin and Whittlesea. It takes in Alphington, Clifton Hill, Fairfield, Kingsbury, Northcote, Preston, Reservoir and Thornbury, and parts of Bundoora, Coburg North, Macleod and Thomastown. It covers an area of approximately 66sq kilometres from Thomastown/Bundoora in the north to Clifton Hill in the south, with Merri Creek providing the vast majority of the western boundary, and the eastern boundary provided by Darebin Creek, parts of Macleod and Plenty Road in Bundoora.
The cities of Yarra and Darebin make up the vast majority of the Federal Division of Batman.
Of the 37 federal electoral divisions in Victoria, nine are named in Aboriginal languages: Ballarat, Corangamite, Corio, Indi, Jaga Jaga, Kooyong, Mallee, Maribyrnong, and Wannon.
Any interested citizen, community group, or organisation can make a submission. It must be a written submission in the form of letter, an email, or petition. A submission may be any length. If the submission is longer than a few pages, it is useful to include a summary at the front. All submissions must include the name of the electorate (Batman).
Community groups or a group of individuals intending to make a submission on the same topic may choose to use a petition attached to one submission to the Redistribution Committee.
To help with the processing of petitions, your document should show how many people have signed the petition, and it should be provided as an unprotected word or excel table in order to streamline the redaction of names and addresses.
Submissions can be sent to:
- Email: FedRedistribution-VIC@aec.gov.au
- In person: Redistribution Committee for Victoria, Australian Electoral Commission, Level 1, Urban Workshop, 50 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne
- Mail: Redistribution Committee for Victoria, Australian Electoral Commission, GPO Box 768, Melbourne VIC 3001
- Fax: 02 6293 7664
Suggestions, submission and petitions must be received by the committee by 6pm AEDT Friday 17 November. The AEC will make all suggestions received available for public inspection from Monday 20 November. The public will then have until 6pm AEDT on Friday 1 December 2017 to lodge written comments on suggestions.
A local advocacy group "Rename Batman" has formed to encourage community support for a change to the name of the Batman electorate. For more information, email the Rename Batman group at firstname.lastname@example.org.
More information on the AEC’s redistribution process including how to make a submission can be found on the AEC website.
Darebin Council will update the public about the submission period on Council’s website www.darebin.vic.gov.au/batmanconversations.
Darebin Council does not have the authority to change the name of the Batman electorate; the AEC has sole responsibility for this decision.
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