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Council support change of 'Merri-bek' municipality name

14 Dec 2021

Moreland City Council will begin a process to change its corporate name, with plans to partner with the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung Cultural Heritage Aboriginal Corporation and consult the community set for 2022.

At a Special Council meeting last night, Council supported changing the name of the municipality in principle.

A community engagement process will now be planned for 2022, to be developed in partnership with the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung Cultural Heritage Aboriginal Corporation. Council will consider a further report in February 2022, detailing the proposed community information and education campaign and plans for community engagement.

Moreland Mayor Councillor Mark Riley said the request to rename Merri-bek is an important issue that aligns with Council’s commitment to reconciliation and human rights.  

“The Traditional Owners of the land, the Wurundjeri Woi-Wurrung Elders and other community leaders, have asked Council to consider renaming Merri-bek City Council. We believe this is an important local issue and we are focused on working through this process in a thorough, fair and equitable way. 

“We know that providing our community with information and education that acknowledges the impacts and consequences of dispossession and racism is going to be a really big part of this. We’re committed to encouraging respectful understanding through truth telling and reconciliation.

“As a local community we have the opportunity to work together to take positive local action and lead change. And we’re looking forward to talking about a new name for the future.”

Cr Riley made it clear that only Merri-bek City Council would be renamed – the municipality, which includes the land bordered by the Moonee Ponds Creek to the west, Merri Creek to the east, Park Street to the south and the Western Ring Road to the north.  

“Changing the corporate name of our council is symbolic and that’s our focus. We’re not considering changing suburb names, road names or the train station name. They’re not ours to change, but others may choose to,” he explained.

It’s expected that Council will need $500,000 over two years to update Council’s digital platforms, signs at significant Council buildings and facilities and municipal entry signs. Cr Riley said it was important that Council take a prudent and responsible approach to the costs of changing the name and use existing budget wherever possible.

Following community and stakeholder engagement, the preferred name would be presented to the Minister for Local Government for consideration in 2022. The Minister, The Hon. Shaun Leane, has declared the State Government’s in principle support for the name change subject to Council and community support.

In November 2021, Merri-bek Council received a request from Elders from the Traditional Owner community and other community representatives to rename the Merri-bek local government area. Information was presented to Council showing that the land, which was sold without the permission of the traditional owners, was called ‘Moreland’ after a Jamaican slave estate. 

You can find out more about this topic on our Renaming Merri-bek page.