THE Shire of Mundaring has said it has no plans to change the name of Greenmount’s Blackboy Hill, despite moves by a nearby local government to change a similarly-named site.
The Shire of Chittering is investigating changing the name of Blackboy Ridge nature reserve, after Lotterywest expressed a reluctance to fund projects in the reserve because the name could be offensive.
The move comes more than 12 months after Aboriginal Affairs Minister Ben Wyatt wrote to local governments asking them to become an active and celebratory participant in embracing Aboriginal language names by bringing forward proposals for place naming.
“The Western Australian government, with the support of Landgate are inviting local governments to partner with Aboriginal communities, Aboriginal Language Centres, Native Title Representatives and body corporates to identify opportunities to preserve and reawaken local languages through place naming,” the letter read.
A spokesman for the Minister said that also extended to Blackboy Hill.
Over 32,000 Australian troops trained at Blackboy Hill between 1914 and 1918, and Blackboy Hill Commemorative Site was established in 1959 in honour of those troops.
The name was taken from the colloquial term for the Xanthorrhoea plant species, now commonly known as a grass tree.
At the time, a spokesman for Mr Wyatt confirmed the Minister was encouraging the Shire of Mundaring to make the move, adding that there seemed to be agreement from all parties that the name should change.
However Shire of Mundaring acting chief executive Shane Purdy confirmed this week there were no plans to change the name and that with the delay of the Shire’s Reconciliation Action Plan due to COVID, the issue would likely not be addressed until 2021.
“A change of name is not something that has been raised by members of our local community,” he said.
“With the advent of COVID-19, and the limited ability to bring people together t0 undertake community consultation, development of the Shire’s RAP was paused.
“This project will recommence in early 2021.
“Should the issue arise during development of our RAP, it will be explored further at that time.”
He also said a change of name for Blackboy Hill had never been raised as an issue, despite Mr Wyatt’s comments last year.