The submission has been made on behalf of the Wurundjeri Tribe Land and Compensation Cultural Heritage Council Corporation (Wurundjeri Council), together with the City of Yarra and City of Darebin.
The submission has been made in response to the AEC’s seven yearly review of the federal electorate redistribution process. As part of the process, the AEC can also consider name changes to existing federal divisions.
The joint submission proposes that the electorate of Batman be renamed Simon Wonga. Simon Wonga was an inspiring and visionary Indigenous leader and Ngurungaeta (‘head-man’) of the Wurundjeri people in the early to mid-1800s at a time when their future was uncertain.
Darebin Mayor, Cr Kim Le Cerf, said Darebin Council has a long standing commitment to reconciliation and renaming the electorate of Batman is part of this journey.
“Our community values Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and heritage, and supporting a name change is an important step towards achieving a shared, inclusive and reconciled national identity,” Cr Le Cerf said.
“The AEC’s redistribution period provides us with an opportunity to broaden the community discussion about the importance of expanding Aboriginal cultural heritage as a means towards reconciliation.
“We hope that others in our community – individuals, community groups and organisations – also see this as an important step towards reconciliation and take the initiative to lodge a submission to the AEC by 17 November.
“A name change will acknowledge the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin nation as the first inhabitants and traditional owners of this area.
“The joint submission is also underpinned by the Charter of Human Rights & Responsibilities Act 2006, particularly regarding respecting and promoting the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people,” said Cr Le Cerf.
Darebin Council will provide regular updates about the submission lodgement timelines on its website www.darebin.vic.gov.au/batmanconversations.
Media Release - 27 October 2017
On 18 October 2017, the AEC announced the public have 28 days to lodge submissions, which close on 17 November 2017. Members of the public then have from 20 November until 1 December to view the submissions and can lodge written comments on the submissions.
More information about the redistribution process and how to lodge a submission is available on the AEC website www.aec.gov.au/Electorates/Redistributions/index.htm
The Federal Electorate of Batman was created in 1906 and takes its name from John Batman, one of the colonists of the City of Melbourne. It is located in Melbourne's northern suburbs covering Alphington, Clifton Hill, Fairfield, Kingsbury, Northcote, Preston, Reservoir and Thornbury, and parts of Bundoora, Coburg North, Macleod and Thomastown. The suburbs come under three local government areas: the cities of Darebin, Whittlesea and Yarra. The vast majority of Batman is in the cities of Darebin and Yarra.
Batman, convinced Wurundjeri elders to sign over more than 200,000ha of ancestral land in exchange for blankets, flour and clothing. He was widely criticised for the treaty, and colonial powers quickly annulled it saying Batman did not have the authority to sign such a treaty. Historical documents show and claim he was involved in the murder of Aboriginal people. (Source: Nicholas Clements, Honorary Research Associate, the University of Tasmania 13/5/2011 The Conversation.
Simon Wonga remains an unfamiliar figure for many people outside the Aboriginal community. As a child, Simon Wonga was with his father when he met John Batman in 1835. He also witnessed the signing of the Batman Treaty.
Simon Wonga helped his people face the loss of their traditional way of life, and achieved his vision for an Aboriginal settlement at Coranderrk near Healesville. At the time, it became the most successful Aboriginal mission in Australia with a thriving farming community, school, bakery and butcher.
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.