Federal blow to Aboriginal names plan

Saskia AdystiThe West Australian

A project to introduce Noongar names to Albany landmarks has failed to receive Federal funding.

Restoring Noongar Place Names is a collaborative project between local indigenous groups, the City of Albany and South Coast Natural Resource Management.

The project aimed to recognise the shared history of the region by introducing dual name signs at popular landmark sites such as Middleton Beach, Mt Elphinstone, Oyster Harbour and Green Island.

South Coast NRM cultural program leader Karen Herlihy said the group had been working hard with local indigenous groups as well as the City of Albany to broaden the project. “Even though we didn’t get the Commonwealth funding, the City of Albany is actively looking for further funding to progress with the dual naming project,” she said.

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“The goal is to be able to complete this project before 2026 for the bicentennial celebration of Albany.”

Aboriginal elder Lester Coyne said he was disappointed the project had not received Commonwealth backing, but he hoped the State Government would be willing to help.

“We’re planning to see if we can get some support from the State Government, given there is already dual name plans with the City of Fremantle,” he said.

City of Albany acting executive director of community services Nathan Watson said the City would continue to recognise Noongar place names through other projects.

“Unfortunately we were not successful in receiving this funding but we are continuing to explore options to progress,” he said.

Ms Herlihy said the next step was to educate the public about the dual names.

“We want to let the community know that both names of every landmark will be recognised equally,” she said.

“The project aims to acknowledge the shared history of our country and to get a deeper sense and understanding of the place.”

Mr Coyne said some members of the public had assumed they were trying to change the landmarks’ names completely.

“There has been a bit of scare campaign out there and people somehow thought we were trying to take away their name,” he said. “It’s not about that at all — it’s about putting the Aboriginal names underneath the names that are already there.

“It’s about recognising our shared history.”

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