Moreland City Council is being asked to choose a new name, as ‘Moreland’ is doubly loaded with racism. ‘Moreland’ was a large Jamaican slave estate. This name was introduced locally by a land speculator to celebrate his part in the dispossession of Indigenous occupants while commemorating the plantation his family helped operate. Andrew Gardiner is Deputy Chair of Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung Cultural Heritage Aboriginal Corporation. Andrew returns to 3KND to talk about “Moreland” and why this name needs to change.
In 1994 this name was declared by the state government upon amalgamation of the Brunswick and Coburg councils, despite alerts to its racist links. The ‘Moreland’ name is now known to be insensitive and disrespectful, and its retention is untenable. This provides a timely opportunity for the City, community and stakeholders to demonstrate and celebrate respect and recognition, through selecting a new name that embodies awareness, acknowledgement and healing.
• 'Moreland' was a brutal slave plantation (up to 700 at any time, more than half female) in Jamaica • Name was introduced by Farquar Macrae one of the 29 men who took private ownership of almost all of present-day Council area in less than 2 years • This could be seen as a 'silent' massacre: rapid displacement from a huge area of homelands • Recorded at the time as causing “malnutrition” and “begging for food”, “in the absence of traditional food” leading to starvation. • We are looking at the name of the principal civic body - our local municipal Council - given this name in 1994 without consultation. • Having a Council named after a slave plantation, connected as it is with local dispossession is the question. • Retaining this would compound the ignorance that chose it in 1994. • It is hurtful and painful, not just to Indigenous people, but also an insult to its diverse and cohesive community of 200,000 citizens.
Letter of Request to Council There are some uncomfortable facts ingrained in the City of Moreland’s current identity. Recognising Council’s strong support for respect and reconciliation, we wish to assist the City to use addressing this regrettable inheritance as an opportunity to enhance awareness, acknowledgement and healing. The name ‘Moreland’ contains disrespectful insensitivity through direct association with both slavery and dispossession. It was introduced locally in 1839 by speculator Farquhar McCrae who participated in the catastrophic early land privatisation that swept the Indigenous occupants of millennia from most of the present municipal area in less than two years. McCrae then named this tract ‘Moreland’ to commemorate the large Jamaican slave plantation that his family had helped operate. In June 1994 the state government amalgamated the former Cities of Coburg and Brunswick to form a new municipality under appointed commissioners. The name ‘Moreland’ was decreed for the new entity, despite its racist associations being raised at the time. The municipal area then expanded in December 1994. Robust evidence now readily available clearly confirms the details and magnitude of these connections with brutal enslavement globally and mass dispossession locally. Retention of this name for the principal civic body for a diverse community of 200,000 citizens is untenable. The undersigned, representing the traditional owners of the land - the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung people, and citizens of the municipality, offer support and encouragement to Council to utilise re-naming of the Council as an opportunity to complement the current spirit of truth-telling and reconciliation, embracing this change as a timely platform for awareness-raising, acknowledgement and healing. No changes to established place names or features are being proposed, solely the name used to identify our municipal Council. An alternative name is not being suggested, enabling its selection to be part of a respectful process devised in partnership with all stakeholders.
We request Council to make the following commitments at its next meeting: • Partner with stakeholders in a respectful process to select a suitable new name during 2022*. • Initiate and implement actions that acknowledge the impacts and consequences of dispossession, encourage respectful understanding through truth-telling, redress injustice, and heal racist hurt. Yours sincerely, Andrew Gardiner, Deputy Chair, Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung Cultural Heritage Aboriginal Corporation Julieanne Axford, Board member, WWCHAC Gail Smith, Naming Researcher, WWCHAC Tony Garvey, Cultural Values Representative, WWCHAC Dr. Klara Hansen, Acting Manager Research Unit, WWCHAC Rev. Alistair Macrae, Past National President, Uniting Church in Australia; former Moderator, Uniting Church Vic. & Tas. Phil Cleary, Former MHR for Wills, 1992-96 Jo Connellan, Former Councillor 2004-12 Rod Duncan, research coordinator Beci Orpin, Freelance designer, illustrator and maker Rafael Rashid, Brunswick entrepreneur, founder Beatbox Kitchen Other citizens are also being invited to add their names to this letter of request. * The Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung Cultural Heritage Aboriginal Corporation has indicated its expertise and capacity to advise Council in designing a process for identifying options for a suitable name that reflect local Indigenous place names and language.