Showing ‘respect’ by changing names


A pre-school, a reserve and a street in Somerville may all be renamed because Blacks Camp is regarded as derogatory and offensive. Pictures: Gary Sissons

MORNINGTON Peninsula Shire councillors have “an opportunity to pay respect” to First Nations people by dropping the name Blacks Camp from a reserve and kindergarten at Somerville.

An archaeological investigation in 2004 found more than 200 artefacts and four Aboriginal sites and concluded that with the existence of fresh water there it had once been a substantial Aboriginal camp.

The shire has been told that Blacks Camp is a derogatory term and offensive to the Bunurong Land Council and People of Aboriginal heritage.

Pam Vercoe, the shire’s head of governance and legal, said non-Aboriginal residents and users of the reserve and kindergarten had also voiced concerns about the inappropriateness of the name.

“It is likely that the road, reserve and kindergarten were named due to some knowledge of the habitation of this area by Aboriginal people,” she said in a report to council’s 28 July meeting.

“The name Blacks Camp is a derogatory term that the shire has been advised is offensive to the traditional custodians of the Mornington Peninsula, the Bunurong Land Council and People of Aboriginal heritage.”

Ms Vercoe said the Blacks Camp Pre-School committee agreed with changing the name and saw it as a “learning opportunity for the children and families to reflect the significance of the area”.

The Bunurong Land Council Aboriginal Corporation provided a list of 17 names that could be used instead of Blacks Camp and the pre-school’s committee has suggested another two.

Three names have made it to a short list that will be voted on by families involved with the pre-school.

The three names are Turrum (she-oak); Beenap (manna gum); and Tillerkite (play).

The Aboriginal corporation also suggested 17 names for the reserve and Blacks Camp Road which was shortened by councillors to six: Bobbinary (clan leader); Burinyong balug (Bunurong clan); Burrenum (clan leader); Decangery (locality); Mayone balug (Bunurong clan); and Worwong (locality).

A public consultation and vote will be taken to help councillors eventually select a new name for the reserve and road.

First published in the Western Port News – 29 July 2020


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