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New name options for Merri-bek presented by Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung Elders (media release)

14 May 2022

Moreland City Council has today endorsed new municipality name options following a collaborative planning process with the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung Cultural Heritage Aboriginal Corporation.

Moreland residents will have their say on a new name for Merri-bek City Council from next week. 

Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung Elders have put forward three words in Woi-wurrung language for the community to consider:

  • Wa-dam-buk, meaning renew
  • Merri-bek, meaning rocky country
  • Jerrang, meaning leaf of tree

The names were presented at a special cultural ceremony that included a Welcome to Country, Cleansing Ceremony and Scroll Handover. Council buildings were cleansed in a smoking ceremony to address past injustices and signify a step forward together in reconciliation.

Moreland Mayor Councillor Mark Riley said any of the three choices will be a name for Council the whole community can be proud of.

“Renaming our council is a small but significant step we can take to right the wrongs of the past, and come together to walk a path of reconciliation.

“Each of these names has rich ties with this area we call home, deepening our connection with our cultural history, land and environment.”

“It has been an honour to accept these names in a beautiful and meaningful ceremony on Wurundjeri land.

“I sincerely thank the Elders for working closely with us on this significant process. It is now time for to the community to tell us which option resonates with them and why, so we can move forward with a Council name that unites us.”

Uncle Andrew Gardiner, deputy chair of the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung Cultural Heritage Aboriginal Corporation, said “with the name Moreland now associated with the Slave trade in Jamaica and purposeful Dispossession of traditional land from our ancestors, the changing of the name is a step forward today for Council to right the wrongs of the past and staying true to its Statement of Commitment to Reconciliation with first peoples, and to maintain a multi-cultural and diverse community.”

“Ratepayers and residents can be proud of the Council, and we greatly appreciate the respect they have shown us to honour their promise.”

The names were formally endorsed in a Special Council Meeting following the ceremony. All residents, ratepayers, business owners and other community members will have the opportunity to have their say through a broad engagement process.

This will include online and face-to-face education and engagement activities, and the ability to show support for a name online, by phone or mail.

Council voted to change the name after receiving a request from the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung Elders and other community representatives. 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. 

The preferred name will be presented at a Special Council meeting in July 2022, and submitted to the Minister for Local Government for consideration and approval.

Once the new name is approved, a total of $500,000 over two years will be allocated towards updating Council’s digital platforms, signs at significant Council buildings and facilities, and municipal entry signs.

Other branding, like street and park signs will be replaced over ten years when they are normally due to be upgraded.

Community members can learn more about the renaming process and the significance of the name options on the Conversations Merri-bek page. They will also be able to share their support for one of the proposed options on this page, from 16 May until 20 June 2022.