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Place names ProjectNangun wruk is a national place names project which aims to better involve language communities in the renaming processes in their regions. To achieve this goal, First Languages Australia is working at two levels.

Firstly, supporting the work that Aboriginal communities and Torres Strait Islander communities are doing in documenting and publishing place names and associated information. First Languages Australia will invite language communities to identify the place names they would like recognised and submit them to a national map. Developing and maintaining the map will be an ongoing project to be promoted as a reference tool for local councils, schools, parks and wildlife, and tourism ventures. The map will specify the preferred geographical name/s and identify a community point of contact for the appropriate use of that name in the region.

Secondly, First Languages Australlia is working with the Permanent Committee on Place Names and other relevant agencies to promote the appropriate use of Aboriginal place names and Torres Strait Islander place names throughout Australia. Where possible, the meanings of these place names will be included on signage.

Support from local agencies and cultural involvement from communities is crucial to the outcomes. These include developing a set of guidelines with local government agencies and federal and state tourism authorities regarding:

  • the inclusion of traditional place names information in shire and tourism publications
  • providing support to local place name committees responsible for defining meanings of current place names and recommending changes and additions
  • changes to signage to reflect the new information
  • encouragement for the use of this material on roadside information boards, and historical markers, where appropriate
  • consideration of local Aboriginal organisations and Torres Strait Islander organisations as contractors for the design, construction, and erection of new signage and changes to old signs
  • exploratory place names projects designed and distributed to schools to encourage young Australians to see place names as an exciting and unique part of their identity
  • employment of local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in the project.

As the naming and renaming of significant places increases, there will be an increasing need for the local cultural knowledge of Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islander people. This will lead to further employment opportunities in industries such as tourism, local government, and state government departments such as Lands, Main Roads, Fisheries, Parks and Wildlife.

"Over 60% of Australian place names are of Aboriginal origin but the meanings of very few are known to the public. Australians seem uninterested in this part of their heritage but overseas tourists always put Aboriginal cultural engagement in the top two of their travel wish lists."  Bruce Pascoe

 Download the place names project summary here: Australian_Place_Names_Project.pdf

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