In the spirit of reconciliation with our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community, Council has resolved to consult with the community with support from the Traditional Owners of the land now known as Darebin (the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin nation) on renaming some places in Darebin, commencing with Batman Park in Northcote and the Federal electoral division of Batman.
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
Darebin Council will formally request a change to the name of the Batman electorate during the redistribution process of the Australian Electoral Commission.
Darebin Council has the support and endorsement of the Wurundjeri Council in making a submission. The Wurundjeri Council has proposed 'Simon Wonga' as the new name.
Simon Wonga 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. With his father he met John Batman in 1835; as an adult helped his people face the loss of their traditional way of life, and achieved his vision for an Aboriginal settlement at Coranderrk near Healesville. To learn more about Simon Wonga, see the Victorian Aboriginal Honour Roll .
The redistribution process will commence in December 2017 to consider electoral boundaries and names in the State of Victoria.
Council’s request will be in the form of a written submission. Any interested citizen, community group, or organisation is also able to make a submission.
A local advocacy group Rename Batman has recently 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 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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Coordinator Equity & Diversity
Ph: 8470 8365