Melbourne council moves to dump slave name

Callum GoddeAAP
Moreland City Council has agreed to next year start consultation on changing its name.
Camera IconMoreland City Council has agreed to next year start consultation on changing its name. Credit: AAP

A Melbourne council is a step closer to changing its name, voting to shed the title after discovering it was named after an 18th century Jamaican slave estate.

In a special meeting on Monday evening, Moreland City Council agreed to next year start consultation with traditional owners and the community on changing its name.

The move will cost at least $500,000 over the next two years to update the council's digital platforms along with significant building and entry signs, while smaller signs, staff uniforms and vehicles are to be renewed through existing budget allocations over a 10-year period.

Moreland train station and Moreland Road will not be renamed under the proposal as the council doesn't have the power to change either.

Greens Mayor Mark Riley, one of six councillors who voted for the change, said a further 1011 people had signed a letter in support.

"This motion tonight is but one small step in the healing process, and goes some small way to restoring the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung and giving them the respect and the rightful link to their land," he said.

Independent Oscar Yildiz was one of three council members to oppose the motion, saying he could not support it due to its cost to ratepayers.

"We live in challenging times and while some of us are in comfortable taxpayer jobs, there are many Moreland families doing it tough," he said.

Traditional owners and other community representatives recently presented the City of Moreland with information showing the name came from land between Moonee Ponds Creek to Sydney Road, that Farquhar McCrae acquired in 1839.

He named the land "Moreland" after a Jamaican slave plantation his father and grandfather operated from 1770 to 1796, which produced sugar and rum, and trade slaves, with 500 to 700 enslaved people there in any one year.

In 1994, the local government areas of Brunswick, Moreland and part of Broadmeadows were amalgamated and the state government named the new local government area Moreland.

Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung elder Uncle Andrew Gardiner said the name was not fitting for the area's "diverse and tolerant community".

"We have two examples of racism on display here: global slavery and local dispossession. They come together in one word and that is 'Moreland'," he said.

The preferred name will be presented to Victoria's local government minister Shaun Leane, who must make a recommendation to the Victorian governor.

Mr Leane has declared the government's in-principal support for the change.

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