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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 13 Hansard (20 November) . . Page.. 3781..


Wednesday, 20 November 2002

The Assembly met at 10.30 am.

(Quorum formed.)

MR SPEAKER (Mr Berry) took the chair and asked members to stand in silence and pray or reflect on their responsibilities to the people of the Australian Capital Territory.

Public Place Names Amendment Bill 2002

Ms Dundas , pursuant to notice, presented the bill.

Title read by Clerk.

MS DUNDAS (10.33): I move:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

Last week the Assembly supported a motion to amend the disallowable instrument that named 19 new streets in Gungahlin. This bill flows on from that motion to amend the act governing place naming. If this bill is supported, there should be no need for future disallowance motions to redress gender imbalances in place naming.

The Public Place Names Act focuses on the commemoration of people who contributed to exploration, navigation, pioneering, colonisation, administration, politics, education, science or letters. All of these fields, with the exception of pioneering and more recently education, are areas that are strongly male dominated. Therefore, it is no surprise that a relatively small proportion of new place names have recognised women.

As I have said before, Canberra's schoolchildren learn about the origin of place names in the area where they grow up. If they learn that all the places around them are named after men, they get the impression that women played no worthy role in our history.

Girls need role models to help them achieve their potential. They need to know that women who have gone before them have challenged stereotypes and succeeded in male-dominated fields; that it is possible to make a difference. But we also need to re-evaluate what is seen as an achievement worthy of recognition.

Women are more difficult to find than men in our historical records, because the contribution of women was usually valued less than the contribution of men. For example, patriarchal societies have determined that being an outstanding surveyor means you are more worthy of commemoration in the historical records than being an outstanding postmistress. That does not mean that women have not contributed in all areas of history.

If you look hard, you will see that the names of many women have been recorded for their contributions in predominantly male fields of endeavour. Because history books have been written mainly by men, they have tended to choose to record male


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