Riley echoed Gardiner’s sentiments, saying it was “an opportunity to give this multicultural community a name we can all be proud of and begin to right the wrong of European colonization.”
A motion to change the board’s name before the end of 2022 passed by a six-to-three vote last year after a delegation informed Riley and Moreland’s chief executive, Cathy Henderson, about the disturbing history of the name.
Moreland was the name of a Jamaican sugar plantation owned by the family of Scotsman Farquhar McCrae, who had around 700 slaves at any given time in the decades after its founding in the 1780s.
McCrae arrived in Melbourne in 1839 and after expropriating the indigenous landowners of a parcel of land he purchased that stretches from Moonee Ponds Creek to Sydney Road, he named it Moreland after his family’s estate. Great Britain made slavery illegal in 1833.
The name Moreland – also used on a prominent road in inland-north Melbourne – was assigned to the council in 1994 as part of the Kennett government amalgamations. The area includes the suburbs of Brunswick, Coburg and Pascoe Vale.
Over the next month, the three proposed names will be discussed with residents and the meaning of each name carefully explained to help inform your choice, Riley said.
A senior indigenous figure, Gary Murray, said his preference was Merri-bek because it denotes strength.
“I have always believed that it is a blood, a globe. We are all human beings, we all have human rights and we have to protect them. This process that was initiated by the city of Moreland and the Wurundjeri First Nations group is quite powerful.”
A name is expected to be officially chosen by July, after local residents and indigenous community members voice their opinions online or through the mail.
The board said assets such as street and park signs, trash cans and employee uniforms would be incrementally changed within existing budget allocations “and asset renewal programs over a 10-year period.”
Between $250,000 and $500,000 was set aside each year for two financial years to make the changes.
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