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What is dual naming and why is it important?

| By Tourism Australia

Dual naming is when a confirmed Aboriginal name for a location or geographical feature sits alongside the official English name for the place. It illustrates the custodianship that Aboriginal peoples have had over the Australian continent for tens of thousands of years and highlights areas of cultural significance.

Why is it important?

In adopting a dual name approach, organisations can play a role in continuing to deepen the knowledge and understanding that all Australians have of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, histories, and cultures, and take the conversation further by incorporating tens of thousands of years of Indigenous custodianship, language, and knowledge into the mainstream consciousness.

In time, the original Aboriginal name will become the norm for how communities refer to places across the country. Dual naming will allow your organisation to enrich your knowledge of your local region.

The Australian community is embracing the value in knowing and respecting the Traditional Owners of the land where they live, work and travel.

What are some examples of where dual naming is currently taking place?

Dual naming of geographical sites or towns and other locations has been happening in all corners of the country. Examples of locations include Uluru/Ayers Rock, K’gari/Fraser Island, kunanyi/Mt Wellington.

Locations Tourism Australia is dual naming

At Tourism Australia we are taking a phased approach. We have initially focused on our major cities and other international destinations, but we are now dual naming features such as islands, rivers and national parks where appropriate. These are some of the locations we are currently dual naming.

City Aboriginal Name Pronunciations
Sydney Warrane wah-rang
Melbourne Narrm narr-m
Brisbane Meeanjin mee-an-jin
Perth Boorloo boor-loo
Adelaide Tarntanya tarn-dan-ya
Hobart nipaluna (n is lower case) nipah-loonah
Broome Rubibi roo-bee-bee
Cairns Gimuy gim-ooy

Considerations for organisations when dual naming

Tourism Australia encourages the broader tourism industry to start dual naming for locations important to their business. However, there are some key considerations each business should think through.

These include:

  • If your organisation is seeking to dual name in your local region, be sure to make contact and engage with local Aboriginal Elders and Traditional Owners to confirm the name you intend to use is correct.
  • There can at times be disagreement within Indigenous communities on dual named locations, so only dual name when a location’s traditional name has been broadly accepted.
  • Organisations should research and confirm if there are locations in their region that may have already been dual named or are in the process of being dual named by their local council and Traditional Owners.
  • Check with relevant State or Territory Government authorities for where they are in the journey of dual naming.
  • Consider how your organisation may structure the dual naming. It might need to be structured differently for each communication channel such as Facebook, Instagram, media releases and websites.
  • It is the preference of many Aboriginal Elders for the Aboriginal name to come first ie: Narrm/Melbourne or Boorloo/Perth. However, Traditional Owners of the cities we have confirmed we will dual name have endorsed the approach Tourism Australia has taken by putting the English name first.
  • If you operate in international markets, you may wish to consider the impact dual naming will have on these consumers.

Further information

Each State and Territory has a Government Agency that is responsible for engaging Indigenous people and communities on dual naming and formalising changes. In Victoria, visit Graphic Names Victoria . You can also contact your State and Territory Tourism Organisation or Tourism Australia if you would like to discuss this further.

Content created by Phil Lockyer, Head of Indigenous Affairs, Tourism Australia plockyer@tourism.australia.com

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