Ward One Greens Councillor Mithra Cox is calling for greater diversity when it comes to naming new streets in the Northern Illawarra and across Wollongong.
Cr Cox says in her time in Council, they’ve only been given the option to name streets after fourteen men, one woman and one Aboriginal word.
This follows the re-naming of Helensburgh’s Club Lane last week where councillors were asked to vote on the following options:-
• ‘Djera Lane’ – Djera is the Aboriginal Dharawal name for Brush Turkey
• ‘Perks Lane’ – Helensburgh’s first motor bus was owned by Mr Arthur Perks
• ‘Gibbons Lane’ –The first recorded European settler in the area was Mr Gibbons in 1832
• ‘Surtees Lane’ – Mr Surtees was the first teacher at the local school.
The vote went to ‘Gibbons Lane’.
“There is no good reason why the Aboriginal name, “Djera”, was not chosen,” Councillor Cox says, “meanwhile, the other options memorialise people who are are 100% men, and colonial settlers at that.
Currently, the Local Studies Library and the local community put forward suggestions. These are then passed on to council.
“Aboriginal names are the preferred names for parks and localities because of State Government policy, but street names are different. In the past twelve months of street naming, there has been just one Aboriginal name included as an option, Djera lane – and it was dropped in favour of the first white settler to Helensburgh.
“This is a clear and unreasonable bias that explains why we have such a huge gender and cultural imbalance in our street names in Wollongong.
“I will use the November meeting to call for a change in the naming process so our street names demonstrate greater cultural diversity,” she says.
“In Wollongong there are six streets named after an Albert, eight after a James, four after a David, nine variations on Robert and a ridiculous fifteen variations on George (including George Fuller, George Hanley, George Cheadie, George Evans and George Tate).
“If you judged us by our street names, you would assume that there were either hardly any women living in our city, or that they made no contribution to our public life.
“The only woman memorialised who even comes close is Victoria, who gets four streets named after her. Though presumably these are named after Queen Victoria, so our local women still don’t get a guernsey.
“Obviously, our road naming policy needs to change in order to address this huge cultural and gender bias. We should memorialise people who have made a contribution to our city – and especially the Aboriginal people who lived here for thousands of years.
“At the very least, we should always be given Aboriginal place names as well as women’s names as options when we are making these decisions,”.