Australian State Removes Racially Offensive Place Names

In May, the Tasmanian Aboriginal Center, a government-funded group that advocates on behalf of Aboriginal communities, announced that it was seeking to have 11 traditional place names, including Victory Hill, Suicide Bay and Cape Grim, stricken from the record. Those names, the group said, were offensive because they referred to massacres of Indigenous people.

In 2008, a ridge in Alpine National Park in Victoria State whose name included a racial slur was renamed Jaithmathangs, the name of a local language. But the new name ignited outrage among the Dhudhuroas, a local Aboriginal group, who said the new name was culturally and linguistically inappropriate, as it applied to a different group that lived miles away from the ridge.

The mayor of the Tablelands Regional Council in North Queensland, Joe Paronella, said that 14 years ago, a creek in the area with the same racial epithet was renamed Wondecla Creek.

“I’m certainly in favor of that happening, and to be perfectly honest, I’m surprised that it’s taken this long,” he said, referring to Tuesday’s announcement.

Suggestions for new place names can be submitted by local governments, community groups and private citizens to the Queensland Department of Natural Resources for consideration. Names accepted for consideration will be presented to the public for feedback before being approved by the state’s minister for natural resources, Dr. Anthony Lynham.

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