Summary of TRACA Submission to the Review of the Aboriginal and Dual Naming Policy
When the British arrived in Tasmania, they set about naming places according to their view of the new landscape and place-names that were familiar to those they left behind in England. This was a deliberate act to colonise or Europeanise land and seascapes. The First People were considered part of the fauna and flora of the land and were not asked what their place-names were.
From a present day perspective, Aboriginal people regard these colonising behaviours as another way to displace and dispossess Aboriginal clanspeople of their social, cultural and spiritual connections with Country, and an attempt to eradicate over 40,000 years of human presence. The introduction of European names ignored the diverse languages that existed since the coming of time.
The seven member organisations of TRACA wholeheartedly support the concept of the dual naming of Country and its features. TRACA acknowledges that language is a powerful tool, especially in regards to renaming Country using Aboriginal names for geographic places and landmarks that were spoken by the First People and custodians of this land.
TRACA acknowledges that regional communities who continue to care for their Country have been excluded from participating in the dual naming process and the selection of place names in their regions, with the control of this process left to one Aboriginal organization – the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre (TAC).
TRACA members representing their individual regional communities seek the right to authentic participation and consultation in any dual naming process as it applies in their region. TRACA members also wish to emphasise that all traditional names and language used in the dual naming process that apply to each members region (Country) requires the endorsement of the applicable regional communities organisation.
The Premier of Tasmania has made a commitment to resetting relationships with all Aboriginal people and this Aboriginal and Dual Naming Policy Review is one of the responses by government to that commitment. TRACA is therefore requesting that the outcome of this review follow the Premier’s commitment to bring about change by being inclusive of all peoples and Aboriginal communities in Tasmania.