Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Darebin

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have maintained a strong physical and cultural presence in Darebin in the face of displacement, disenfranchisement and policies of assimilation. At the 2016 Census, Darebin had a census population count of 1,167 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (one of the largest proportions of Aboriginal residents of the 31 municipalities in Greater Melbourne). Since the mid-20th century this community has played a prominent role in the national struggle for Aboriginal rights and social justice.

Darebin Council supports the celebration of Australia’s national identity, just not on 26 January.

View this information in your language: عربي, Italiano, Македонски, 中文, Soomaali, Ελληνικά, Tiểng Việt, हिंदी.

Why is Darebin City Council opposed to marking 26 January?

In addition to providing important services like rubbish and roads maintenance, councils are responsible for protecting the health and wellbeing of their communities. Darebin Council is opposed to Australia's national celebration being held on 26 January out of respect for local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, who have told us that they experience a day of sadness, pain and disconnection. Australia Day, and its history, is complex for many Australians, in particular Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

26 January commemorates the arrival of the First Fleet and the planting of the Union Flag on Gadigal Country (in Port Jackson). For the Wurundjeri and the broader Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community, this marks the beginning of invasion and dispossession. Celebratory events held on this anniversary only intensify the sadness, pain and disconnection experienced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. There is growing national debate on the relevance and significance of Australia Day celebrations, specifically concerning the date 26 January. At the most recent Australian Local Government Congress, the following motion was carried (64-62 in favour):

That the National General Assembly encourage Australian councils to consider efforts they could take to lobby the Federal Government to change the date of recognition of Australia Day.

This national debate has highlighted the complexities and emotional responses to Australia Day. Importantly, it has created a discourse about how Darebin can take a leadership role and make Australia Day an inclusive one for all that brings people together in the spirit of respect and recognition at the local level. To have a truly inclusive national celebration we need to find a day which includes, honours and celebrates the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples who have inhabited this land for 60,000 plus years prior to European settlement.

What did Council base this decision on?

Celebrations held on 26 January are known to have a disproportionately negative impact on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, many of whom experience the day as a sad and painful day. This is why Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples with links to Darebin were the target of a consultation undertaken by Council in 2017.

To gather broader community sentiment, we also opted to survey non-Aboriginal people through our 27 advisory committees. Our decision as a Council was based on this information, a general knowledge of our community through a range of Council networks, and the visible groundswell of support for change (more recently demonstrated by the estimated 50,000 Melburnians – Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal – who took to the streets on 26 January 2018).

Darebin City Council resolved to hold an annual event, in collaboration with the Darebin Aboriginal Advisory Committee, in recognition of the First Nations culture and history.

Inclusive Community Event

On the first weekend in September, Council now hosts an annual community event called Ngulu Nganjin recognising and celebrating First Nations peoples and the wider Darebin community. Co-designed with the Darebin Aboriginal Advisory Committee and Traditional Owners, the event features Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung Welcome Ceremony and is an opportunity for the Darebin community to join us in recognising and celebrating First Nations people,  raising community awareness and coming together as a proud, diverse and inclusive community for all. The inaugural event took place on first of September 2019.  Find out more here.


Who did Council consult with?

We have a longstanding relationship with the local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community and 26 January has been a topic of discussion with the community for many years. Consultations were held in 2017, including a roundtable discussion with the Darebin Aboriginal Advisory Committee and engagement with community leaders through an online survey. The community engagement process also utilised Council's extensive and diverse network of Council's 27 advisory committees. We also consulted with the Wurundjeri Land and Compensation Cultural Heritage Council Aboriginal Corporation.

What were the results of community consultations? 

The results of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community consultation showed that this community found Australia Day celebrations alienating, hurtful and upsetting – an anniversary that marks the beginning of invasion and dispossession. A strong theme to emerge from the consultation was the need for increased promotion of history and increased recognition of Aboriginal peoples – to foster greater compassion, acceptance and understanding in the community. The results of the survey indicate a strong level of community support for Council taking a more active role in acknowledging the experience of 26 January for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, including specifically a strong level of support for Council supporting the #changethedate campaign.

  • 86% supported #changethedate campaign (86% favourable)
  • Preference for a citizenship ceremony to be held on a different day (60% favourable)
  • Support for an event that acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander experiences of 26 January (61% favourable).

Does this mean that Darebin City Council is anti-Australia Day?

We are not anti-Australia Day, nor opposed to the celebration of national identity. We are opposed to celebrating our national identity on 26 January, a day which causes such great distress to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Will the Mayor, Councillors and staff of Darebin City Council still take a public holiday on 26 January?

As elected representatives, the Mayor and Councillors work every day for the Darebin community, including public holidays. 26 January remains a national public holiday, and Council's customer services centres and libraries will be closed. However, household rubbish and recycling collections will take place as normal. Our leisure centres will also open (but may have amended timetables).

Will I lose my public holiday on 26 January?

No, we do not want to take away the 26 January public holiday. Council is simply looking for more culturally respectful ways to mark 26 January.

Why doesn't Council stick to 'rates, roads and rubbish'?

We have a responsibility to advocate on behalf of our community, as well as deliver a range of essential services. Since the Local Government Act 1989 (Vic) was passed 30 years ago, the role of local councils has grown to do more for local communities, including "advocating the interests of the local community to other communities and governments". Darebin's local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community has told us that 26 January celebrations have a significant negative impact on their health and wellbeing. As a Council, we have a legislative responsibility to show leadership and advocate on their behalf, ensure their health and wellbeing (Victorian Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008) and foster human rights (Victorian Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006), including Aboriginal cultural rights. As important as our advocacy work is, we are equally committed to delivering a vast range of services and programs.

This is a Federal Government issue, why is Darebin Council getting involved?

We are getting involved because this is a local issue as much as it is a national one. The way we mark 26 January has a significant negative impact on the local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community. We have a long-standing and collaborative relationship with Darebin's Aboriginal community, and are proud to be a leader on Aboriginal issues within the Local Government sector. Darebin also has a long-standing link to this issue through Aboriginal Elders Bill Onus, Jack Patten, Margaret Tucker and Pastor Douglas Nicholls who were part of the 'Day of Mourning' protest in Sydney on 26 January in 1938. All of these Elders went on to play strong leadership roles in Darebin's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.

26 January is our national day of celebration – why should the date be changed?

The date should be changed so it can be a celebration that includes all Australians – especially First Australians. Australia Day only became a national public holiday celebrated by all states and territories in 1994.

Will Darebin City Council be cancelling Australia Day celebrations?

No. Council does not hold national celebrations on 26 January.

In August 2017, Darebin Council decided not to hold a citizenship ceremony on 26 January and instead to move it to another date in the year out of respect for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. Councils hold multiple citizenship ceremonies throughout the year, however the Federal Government has revoked our right to preside over citizenship ceremonies in our local community.

Can Darebin residents still celebrate 26 January?

The Darebin community is welcome to celebrate on 26 January in any way they choose. We encourage people to reflect about what this date really means in the history of our nation and its effect on the local Aboriginal community.

How your 26 January event can be more inclusive?

If you would like to take part in an inclusive activity on 26 January that respects and recognises Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, here is a list of events and activities for you to consider.

Share the Spirit Festival
A family-friendly free festival with music, singing, dancing, and great food. All Welcome.
Where: Treasury Gardens, 2-18 Spring Street, Melbourne
Time: 12pm – 7pm
Details: facebook.com/sharethespiritfestival

Invasion/Survival Day March
Where: Parliament Gardens, Spring Street, Melbourne (assemble at Pastor Douglas and Gladys Nicholls statue)
Time: 11am – 2pm onwards

Invasion Day Dawn Service
Where: Kings Domain Resting Place, located near Linlithgow Avenue opposite Janet Lady Clarke Rotunda in Naarm (Melbourne).
Time: 5.30am – 6.30am

Belgrave Survival Day
Where: Bill Borthwick Park, Belgrave
Time: 12pm - 4:30pm
Details: www.facebook.com/events/623418318228130/

Port Phillip Morning of Mourning
Where: Alfred Square, St Kilda
Time: 6am
Details: portphillip.vic.gov.au/indigenous.htm#australia-day

3KND Kool 'N' Deadly Top 100 Indigenous Songs Of All Time
Where: Listen to the coutdown on 3KND by tuning to 1503AM or online.
Time: 9am - 4pm
Details: https://www.3knd.org.au/

3CR Invasion Day Broadcast
Where: Listen by tuning radio to 855AM or online.
Time: 9am - 4pm
Details: www.3cr.org.au/news/2020-invasion-day-coverage



There are lots of different organisations out there promoting conversation about what 26 January means, and offering ideas about activities for the day.  Here’s a sample of ideas and links: 

  • Listen to 3KND radio's Too Deadly January 26 Australian music special - 24 hours of Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and Mainstream music.
  • Write something on social media about what 26 January means to you. Why are you marking it the way you are? What are your hopes for the future? Search these hashtags on social media for ideas and inspiration #ADateForAll #ChangeTheDate #SharedDreaming #OneMob #BigCountryBigHistory #AlwaysWasAlwaysWillBe
  • Have a conversation with friends, family members about what 26 January means to you – what does it actually celebrate and does it reflect who we are as a nation?  Australians Together offers some interesting thought starters.
  • Change it Ourselves offers suggestions for people wanting to talk to their employer about working on Australia Day instead of taking the day as a holiday.
  • Read an Acknowledgement of Country statement to family, friends or loved ones during a quiet moment or before a meal on 26 January.

Darebin has a long standing relationship with the Aboriginal community and is committed to strengthening the partnership to continue the journey towards reconciliation.

Our Commitment

Darebin City Council acknowledges the traditional owners of the land; the Wurundjeri people and pays respect to their Elders both past and present.

On Monday 4 August 2019, Mayor Cr Susan Rennie joined Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung Elders Aunty Gail Smith, Aunty Julianne Axford and Uncle Alan Wandin from the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung Cultural Heritage Aboriginal Corporation and Darebin Aboriginal Advisory Committee representatives Jenaya Kastamonitis and Alan Brown for the signing of Darebin Council’s Statement of Commitment.

This Statement of Commitment renews Council’s commitment to Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung Traditional Owners and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities of Darebin which was first made twenty years ago. The new statement proudly embodies the Uluru Statement from the Heart (2017), the Close the Gap Statement of intent (2008) and the Victorian Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities (2006).

We thank Traditional Owners and the Darebin Aboriginal Advisory Committee for their collaboration.

View the signed Statement of Commitment here

 More recently our commitment is reaffirmed in the Darebin Council Plan 2017-20121

  • We will be responsive and respectful to the current and emerging aspirations of Traditional Owners and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in Darebin.  
  • We respect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history and culture and actively seek to commemorate, celebrate and honour it in our places, planning, activities and events.
  • We work with the 17 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander agencies based in Darebin to achieve the goals of the community through partnerships, collaboration and co-investment.
  • We acknowledge and respect Traditional Owners and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities leadership towards self-determination and treaty, and we will work with the Victorian Government process to ensure it becomes a reality. 


We are working towards a racism-free Darebin where our community's diversity is valued, celebrated, respected, embraced and leveraged. Join our efforts to help spread attention to the 'Racism. It Stops With Me' campaign.

Anti-Racism Strategy

The Darebin Anti-Racism Strategy has been integrated throughout our work to strengthen social cohesion where community's diversity is valued, celebrated, respected, embraced and leveraged. Darebin is an official supporter of the Federal Government's Racism. It Stops With Me campaign which invites all Australians to reflect on what they can do to counter racism, wherever it happens.

Reporting Racism

Report Racism was a pilot initiative of the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission (VEOHRC) in partnership with Victorian Police and the Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people could make a report if they had been subject to racism or witnessed racism in the community. 

Darebin City Council participated in the pilot as a special reporting place which enabled people to report racism to the Human Rights Commission with a supporting staff member in a trusted, confidential setting.  Participants had the option of requesting an anonymous report which were subsequently lodged at www.reportracism.com.au.

The Report Racism initiative allowed people to report racism (discrimination or vilification) where they have been either personally discriminated against or have been witness to racism. The initiative provides the community with an opportunity to reporting racism safely and confidently.

The trial has now concluded. While the project has concluded, the Report Racism site is still active and people are still able to lodge a complaint. 

For further information please see www.reportracism.com.au .

If you have questions about this initiative please contact:

Aboriginal Partnerships Officer 
Ph: 8470 8366
Email: Stuart.McFarlane@darebin.vic.gov.au

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Action Plan 2017-2021

Council’s work supporting the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community is progressed through the Darebin Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Action Plan 2017-2021.

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Action Plan  formalises Council’s long–standing commitment and relationship with the Darebin Aboriginal and Torres Strai Islander community. The Plan maps Council’s future directions, strengthening Council’s partnerships in facilitating a more inclusive and equitable society through a range of actions and commitments that respect the principles and philosophies of community control and self-determination. These principles value Aboriginal people’s right to full and equal participation in community life as a priority in achieving Council’s broader goals of achieving an equitable and just society.

The plan was developed with the support of the Darebin Aboriginal Advisory Committee.  

Darebin Aboriginal Advisory Committee

The Darebin Aboriginal Advisory Committee (DAAC) was launched in September 2011 as an official community advisory committee to Council. The Committee plays an important role in contributing to and monitoring the implementation of  the Darebin Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Action Plan.

The DAAC’s focus is to: 

  • Provide strategic advice to Council and advocate on issues and barriers to access and equality, which affect Aboriginal people in the City of Darebin.
  • Promote and advocate for social inclusion and social justice outcomes for Darebin’s Aboriginal communities, with a view to informing and improving Council decision making in relation to policy, program, and service delivery.
  • Assist Council in gaining a greater awareness and improving responsiveness to address Aboriginal cultural heritage responsibilities.
  • Advocate for and support Aboriginal community engagement.
  • Assist Council to achieve more effective relationships and partnerships with the Aboriginal community wherever possible and demystify complex cultural issues and sensitivities requiring cooperation and collaboration. 

Expression of Interest for the Darebin Aboriginal Advisory Committee (DAAC)

Expression of Interests for positions on the Darebin Council Aboriginal Advisory Committee are now open for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Expressions of Interest are open from Wednesday 18th March 2020 and close Friday 3rd April 2020. Please refer to the DAAC Expression Of Interest for application details and the DAAC Terms Of Reference.

Further details can be obtained by contacting Aboriginal Partnership Officer on 8470 8366 or email stuart.mcfarlane@darebin.vic.gov.au

Aboriginal Partnership Officer Our Aboriginal Partnership Officer's role is to improve the understanding and awareness of Aboriginal culture and to provide culturally appropriate guidance to staff and council when engaging and working alongside Aboriginal people and their respective communities. The role is also a pivotal working connection between Aboriginal community and Council and is acknowledged for its cultural importance, knowledge and specialisation with bridging community with Council.

Terminology: Aboriginal, Aborigine, Koori or Indigenous?
There are no clear-cut rules, but if in doubt, it is best-practice to use the term Aboriginal – as in the Aboriginal community, or Aboriginal person. Some Aboriginal people have mixed feelings about the use of other terms such as Indigenous and Aborigine because of negative historical associations. Koori is another word frequently used by Aboriginal people in South Eastern Australia, but this is an informal term and best to be avoided by non-Aboriginal people.
(with kind permission from Yarra City Council).



We recognise key Aboriginal events to celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and improve understanding and awareness of Aboriginal needs. We also celebrate cultural places of significance at a number of locations across the City.

We host Aboriginal key events such as Sorry Day, NAIDOC Week and Reconciliation Week which are all aligned to the national calendar of Aboriginal events. We also celebrate a local event, Wurundjeri Week, which recognises the Traditional Owners of Darebin the Wurundjeri people. Wurundjeri Week is a relatively new celebration and is aligned to the local Melbourne Aboriginal schedule of events.

Celebrating Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture through specific festivals contribute to our commitment to improve understanding and awareness of Aboriginal needs, both for staff and for the community.  It contributes specifically to the understanding that issues of importance to the Aboriginal community, including culture and heritage are to be respected recognised and commemorated. It also provides non-indigenous people an opportunity to participate in indigenous activities. 

Spiritual Healing Trail at Darebin Parklands
The spiritual healing Trail is located at the Darebin Parklands in Alphington.  The trail was a gift from the Aboriginal community as a gesture of Reconciliation. The Spiritual Healing trail aims to promote good health and wellbeing by providing a sense  of connection to the land. The trail was established by Aboriginal Elder, the late Uncle Reg Blow in partnership with us. See Information Brochure and Spiritual Healing Trail Map.

Stolen Generation Marker
The Stolen Generation Marker is a project initiated by the Aboriginal Advisory Committee. It gives recognition to members of the Aboriginal community whose lives have been affected by the assimilationist policies of previous governments when Aboriginal children were taken away from their families and fostered to White Australian families.  The impact of such policies has been devastating and still felt down the generations of today. The importance of this Marker is very significant and was launched on Sorry Day 2015.

National Sorry Day  26 May
National Sorry Day is an annual ceremonial event that is held in Australia on 26 May and coincides with the launch of the 1997 ‘Bringing them Home’ report. This date has great significance for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who were forcibly removed under the assimilation policies of past Governments. Sorry Day is about commemorating and raising awareness among politicians, policy makers, and the wider public about the significance of the effect upon those forcibly removed under those policies by past Government and marks their impact that this policy has had on those children that were taken from their families across Australian Aboriginal communities.

National Reconciliation Week 27 May – 3 June
National Reconciliation Week (NRW) is celebrated across Australia each year between 27 May and 3 June. The dates commemorate two significant milestones in the reconciliation journey: the anniversaries of the successful 1967 referendum and the High Court Mabo decision. The week is a time for all Australians to learn about our shared histories, cultures and achievements and to explore how each of us can join the national reconciliation effort.

NAIDOC  First week of July
National Aboriginal Islander Day Observance Committee (NAIDOC) is a week of celebration of Aboriginal culture and acknowledgement of the contributions that indigenous Australians bring to the socio-cultural and economic development of Australia. It brings together Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people to participate and celebrate in the history, heritage, traditions, knowledge and culture of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Wurundjeri Week 4 - 8 August

 Wurundjeri Week is an acknowledgement and celebration of the traditional Aboriginal land owners of Melbourne including the greater Melbourne region which includes the Darebin region.  The traditional owners of the land are the Wurundjeri people and we have an ongoing commitment and agreement as outlined in our Statement Of Commitment (1998) to preserving this rich cultural heritage and its ongoing traditions by enriching the knowledge of all Darebin residence with a cultural emersion of local history and ongoing cultural events of Wurundjeri peoples.

National Reconciliation Week is 27 May - 3 June 2020.

Reconciliation Week 2020The theme for #NRW2020 – In this together – is now resonating in ways we could not have foreseen when we announced it last year, but it reminds us whether in a crisis or in reconciliation we are all #InThisTogether.

National Reconciliation Week (NRW) is a time for all Australians to learn about our shared histories, cultures, and achievements, and to explore how each of us can contribute to achieving reconciliation in Australia.

The dates for NRW remain the same each year; 27 May to 3 June. These dates commemorate two significant milestones in the reconciliation journey— the successful 1967 referendum, and the High Court Mabo decision respectively.

Reconciliation must live in the hearts, minds and actions of all Australians as we move forward, creating a nation strengthened by respectful relationships between the wider Australian community, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

We have a range of activities planned to engage our community: join us on Facebook, wherever you may be.

National Sorry Day
26 May 2020

• Welcome to Country and Smoking Ceremony by a Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung Elder
• Banyule Council Mayor’s Speech & Flag-Raising
• Darebin Council Mayor’s Speech
• Perfomance by Maylene Slater-Burns

Sorry Day talks with special guest speakers:
• Aunty Eva-jo Edwards
• Aunty Muriel Bamblett AO
• Ian Hamm (Connecting Home)
• Uncle Trevor Gallagher
• Performance by Pirritu - Brett Lee

More information about events running during Recreation Week 2020 here.

The City of Darebin hosts a number of Aboriginal Peak Bodies, including associations and groups that lobby government on behalf of the interests of the members. From health, employment and legal services, to child care and education associations, sports clubs, music and radio.

Aboriginal community Resources

There are a number of key Aboriginal organisations in the Darebin region with its specific business mandate. These  association or groups have common interests and are generally established for the purposes of developing standards and processes, or to act on behalf of all members when lobbying government or promoting the interests of the members. The City of Darebin is unique in hosting many of the Aboriginal Peak Bodies within the Municipality. Darebin City Council has long standing relationship and have established collaborative practices with many of these groups in Darebin.

Aboriginal Organisations located within or close to Darebin include:
There are also several non-Aboriginal organisations that represent Aboriginal interests and that Council works closely with that are also located in the Darebin Regions,  these include: 

You can download an information sheet with brief descriptions and contacts to these organisations here

Darebin is home to a rich, long-standing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander heritage and culture.

In order to acknowledge and celebrate the depth and breadth of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture within our municipality, we've created the Darebin Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Recognition and Discovery Map.

We hope you will use this resource as a guide to recognising, and engaging with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, culture, and organisations.

To request a hard copy, contact our Customer Service team on 8470 8888.

Aboriginal Art collection 

Council's Darebin Art Collection features an exciting collection of artwork from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists in Darebin. 

The Aboriginal Art Collection catalogue features a selection of the many powerful Aboriginal artworks held in the Darebin Art Collection.

Go to the Darebin Arts website to view the collection. 



The City of Darebin is located on the traditional lands of the Wurundjeri People of the Kulin Nation. They are the traditional owners of this land. We can put you in touch with Local Elders, and guide you how to acknowledge the traditional owners at your ceremonies.

Traditional Owners

The City of Darebin is located on the traditional lands of the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung People of the Kulin Nation. They are the Traditional Owners of this land.

Map of Wurundjeri land area

There are also many other Aboriginal people who live and work within the City of Darebin. There are unique practices in place designed to acknowledge and pay respects to the traditional owners and Elders of the Wurundjeri Community including the convention of verbal and written acknowledgements, Welcome to Country and Smoking Ceremonies.  The Darebin Website includes a written acknowledgement on each page and other protocols are followed in the preparation of speeches and at the introduction of meetings.  Council has also commenced the process of placing acknowledgment plaques on Council buildings. 

Aboriginal Heritage 

The Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung people of the Kulin Nations are the traditional owners and custodians of the land that is now known as the City of Darebin. Council recognises the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrng people as the custodians of the cultural heritage of this land. 

Aboriginal people have maintained a strong physical and cultural presence in Darebin in the face of displacement, disenfranchisement and policies of assimilation. At the 2016 Census, Darebin had a census population count of  1,165, Aboriginal and Torres Straitl Islander people living in 652 dwellings (one of the largest proportions of Aboriginal residents of the 31 municipalities in Greater Melbourne). Since the mid twentieth century this community has played a prominent role in the national struggle for Aboriginal rights and social justice.

Welcome to Country

Darebin Council engages Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung Council Elders to perform ceremonial “Welcome to Country” ceremonies whenever an official launch or a major formal public presentation takes place. “Welcome to Country” ceremonies may also include a traditional “Smoking Ceremony”. Smoking ceremonies are undertaken by Aboriginal male Elders and used to welcome people and provide safe passage onto the traditional land. The cleansing properties of the smoke produced by the burning of native plants and leaves are used to ward of bad spirits. 

Acknowledgement of Country

An Acknowledgement of Country can be performed by non-Aboriginal and non Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung Aboriginal persons as a form of verbal respect and acknowledgement to the traditional owners as is also viewed as an acknowledgement of respect to all other Aboriginal people.

For example at Darebin City Council the following words are used:  

"I acknowledge the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung people who are the Traditional Owners and custodians of this land. I recognise their continuing connection to land, water and culture. I pay my respects to Elders past, present and emerging."

Bookings of Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung Elders for specific events

The booking of Elders for specific events such as ‘Welcome To Country” can be arranged through the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung Council . In Aboriginal culture there is adherence around appropriateness of what constitutes Women’s and Men’s business. This might impact on whether you book a male or female Elder. Wurundjeri Council can provide advice on this matter.  A Wurundjeri booking form can be downloaded from the following link for this procedure and bookings should be made well in advance of the event date.

Booking form for a Wurundjeri booking

Further Information
Aboriginal Parnterships Officer 
Ph: 8470 8366 


In the spirit of reconciliation with our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community, Council has resolved to consult with the community with support from the Traditional Owners of the land now known as Darebin (the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin nation) on renaming some places in Darebin, commencing with Batman Park in Northcote and the Federal electoral division of Batman.

Renaming Batman Park

Renaming Batman ParkWith support from Wurundjeri Elders from the Wurundjeri Tribal Land Compensation and Cultural Heritage Council ('Wurundjeri Council') we held four community consultations to illuminate the many connections between the Aboriginal heritage and history of this area, and to hear the community's feedback on the renaming.

Following extensive community consultation, Darebin City Council formally endorsed ‘Gumbri’ as the preferred name for Batman Park.

The name Gumbri has endorsement by The Wurundjeri Land and Compensation Cultural Heritage Council Aboriginal Corporation Wurundjeri Corporation.

Gumbri, also known as Jessie Hunter, was a much loved and respected Wurundjeri Elder. Her name means 'white dove' in Woi wurrung, the traditional language of the Wurundjeri people. She was the last girl born on the Coranderrk Aboriginal Reserve in Healesville and she had a great passion for Wurundjeri people and Country with a special interest in bush foods and medicines.

Overall, the community expressed:

  • A positive response to the potential renaming of Batman Park to recognise the traditional owners
  • A high level of respect for the experience and wisdom of Wurundjeri Elders
  • A desire for recognition of John Batman to be retained in some way within the park
  • Support for constitutional recognition, recognition of Traditional Owners, reconciliation, and a potential treaty
  • A high level of interest in accessing local places and spaces to learn more about the Aboriginal history, living culture, spirituality and heritage of Darebin
  • A desire to retain the visibility of Batman in some form within the Park, keeping all layers of history visible and ensuring continued and respectful acknowledgement of the past.

Outcome of Statutory Process for renaming Batman Park to Gumbri Park - Update as of 17 July 2018

The final process for name change was submission to the Office of Geographic Names as part of the statutory process set out under the Geographical Place Naming Act 1988.

Council has now received a formal response from the Office of Geographic Names.  While the Office of Geographic Names acknowledged both the Wurundjeri Council and the support of the community to recognise Jessie Hunter (Gumbri), the proposal was not approved under the naming rules for places in Victoria.  The Office have indicated they are supportive of Batman Park being renamed and recommended that Council seek to adopt an alternative name.  Council will now look at renaming options moving forward in consultation with the Wurundjeri Council. 

Does this mean that the name of Batman Park will definitely change?

Despite the recent outcomes of statutary rocess, Council is committed to renaming of the park and will continue to engage with the Traditional Owners and Darebin community in the planning, design and implementation of permanent signage for the main park entry. The process will consider feedback provided during the earlier community conversations.

The renaming is more than just a replacement of one name with another. In the spirit of reconciliation, Darebin City Council, Wurundjeri Council and the Darebin Aboriginal Advisory Committee are committed to ensuring that the life and legacy of John Batman is still visible in the park alongside the multiple stories and histories of the park that enhance our city.

For the time being, Council has removed the Batman Park archway following recent damage to the sign. The sign has been removed to protect it from further damage, ensure the area surrounding the entrance is safe to pedestrians and to ensure its safekeeping for possible future use within the park once the proposed park renaming is approved.  

Renaming the Federal Electorate of Batman

The federal electorate of Batman was created in 1906, replacing the Division of Northern Melbourne. Batman is located in Melbourne’s northern suburbs and stretches through three local government areas: Yarra, Darebin and Whittlesea (Yarra and Darebin make up the majority of the division).

It takes in Alphington, Clifton Hill, Fairfield, Kingsbury, Northcote, Preston, Reservoir and Thornbury, and parts of Bundoora, Coburg North, Macleod and Thomastown. It covers an area of approximately 66sq kilometres from Thomastown/Bundoora in the north to Clifton Hill in the south, with Merri Creek providing the vast majority of the western boundary, and the eastern boundary provided by Darebin Creek, parts of Macleod and Plenty Road in Bundoora.

Of the 37 federal electoral divisions in Victoria, nine are named in Aboriginal languages: Ballarat, Corangamite, Corio, Indi, Jaga Jaga, Kooyong, Mallee, Maribyrnong, and Wannon.

In November 2017 Darebin City Council, together with the Wurundjeri Tribe Land and Compensation Cultural Heritage Council and Yarra City Council, lodged a joint submission calling for the renaming of the Federal Electorate of Batman to the federal electorate of Simon Wonga. 

Update as at 20 June 2018

The augmented Electoral Commission for Victoria has announced the outcome of its deliberations on the names and boundaries of the 38 federal electoral divisions in Victoria, see Redistribution Committee's Recommendations.  Following deliberation, written objections and comments as well as information presented at the inquiries in Winchelsea and Melbourne which Darebin Council attended, the Electoral Commission unanimously agreed to rename the Division of Batman to recognise William Cooper.  The names and boundaries of of the federal electoral divisions for Victoria will apply from Friday 13 July 2018.

We welcome the Electoral Commission’s decision to rename the federal electoral Division of Batman to Cooper.  This is a landmark decision, showing that at a national level, we are recognising our First Nations people.

Read our FAQ, Regarding Federal Electoral Division of Batman Renaming for questions about our position on the renaming.

William Cooper

William Cooper

Mr Cooper was a spokesman for Aboriginal people who, as secretary of the Australian Aborigines League presented a petition and led deputations to authorities, calling for direct representation in parliament, enfranchisement, land rights and federal control of Aboriginal affairs.

In 1938 Mr Cooper lodged a personal protest against the treatment of European Jews in Nazi Germany following Kristallnacht.

See the AEC website for details on the redistribution outcomes and for Electoral Redistribution Timeframes.

Darebin Council does not have the authority to change the name of the Batman electorate; the AEC has sole responsibility for this decision.

 Why did Council want to change the name of the electorate of Batman?

The renaming of the electorate of Batman reflects the spirit and intent of Council’s Aboriginal Action Plan and our commitment to reconciliation, building on work between Council and the Aboriginal communities connected to Darebin.

Our work in this area shows respect for Traditional Owners, acknowledges our shared history and recognises the land as vital to Aboriginal communities’ cultural, spiritual and physical identity.

Council's position on why the name of Batman should not be retained for the federal electorate.

Darebin Council will continue to explore opportunities to recognise Simon Wonga in recognition and out of respect to the Wurundjeri Elders who originally proposed that the electorate be named this respected leader.

Receive Updates

To receive regular updates on both of these projects, please join our mailing list by contacting us via email: diversity@darebin.vic.gov.au.

Further Information

If you have any comments, questions about the project or some information to share, please contact us.

Mandy Bathgate
Coordinator Equity & Diversity
Ph: 8470 8365
Email: diversity@darebin.vic.gov.au

The Darebin Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Employment Strategy and Action Plan is a long-term strategy aimed at building an organisational foundation to increase employment outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in Darebin.

Informed by findings of consultations undertaken with the DAAC, Community members and other internal and external stakeholders, it builds on and leverages off Darebin City Council’s (Council) years of building relationships and the development of collaborative partnerships supporting equity, health and wellbeing outcomes.

The Strategy aligns with strategic priorities as outlined in our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Employment Strategy Action Plan 2017-2027 and its key equity and inclusion principals of Social justice, Accountability, Participation, Empowerment, Human rights, Diversity  - ‘working with our diverse community to build a sustainable and livable City’.  The Action Plan will be annually reviewed.


The Story of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Darebin was commissioned by the Darebin Aboriginal Advisory Committee to raise awareness of the Darebin Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community and the significant history of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Darebin pre and post settlement, the relationship with Traditional Owners and the living, diverse, dynamic and proud culture that makes up the Darebin community today.

Darebin City Council recognises that this is by no means a comprehensive re-telling of the Aboriginal history of the local area, nor is it the only way that even this small part of the story could be told. Council also recognises that contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history within our municipality, and further afield, is constantly evolving. Much of the contemporary history remains with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to whom it belongs. 

The Story of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Darebin

This resource complements the Darebin Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Recognition and Discovery Map.