Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 14 Hansard (11 December) . . Page.. 4297 ..
MRS CROSS (continuing):
Women now make up more than half the population of Canberra, but in so many ways we are still behind the eight-ball when it comes to our contribution to the history and development of this nation being recognised. Indeed, indigenous women have until recently been considered totally irrelevant to the growth and human custodianship of this land.
Things are changing. Indeed, I am reminded at the opening of each sitting of this Assembly that we now pay long overdue respect to the fact that we meet on the ancestral lands of the Ngunnawal peoples. But there is still a long way to go. In the words of civil rights movements around the world, "It's not over until it's equal."
Women are still not equal in our community, and the extent to which the place names of streets and suburbs are not representative of women's contributions is a very public expression of that fact. I commend Ms Dundas' efforts on this, and I will be supporting the bill accordingly.
MS GALLAGHER (7.39): The Assembly should not support Ms Dundas' Public Place Names Amendment Bill 2002. The ACT has the most prescriptive naming procedure in Australia, and the act should not be amended to make the procedure more prescriptive.
The government believes that it is not appropriate to include words that ask the minister to look at the past when considering each naming in the future. The place for such consideration is within the guidelines to be followed in addition to the requirements of the act.
I agree, as does Mr Corbell, that it is important for women to be represented in Canberra's place names. Our nomenclature is unique, in that it is a snapshot of Australian history-and, yes, women are an important part of that history. It is important to note that our society has been, and still is, largely patriarchal.
The women's movement over the years has done much to address this by striving for gender equity in all areas of life. ACT Place Names named a number of streets after prominent women during that time. The way this was achieved was by dedicating a number of suburb themes purely to the commemoration of women.
Further along the history line, you have the District of Gungahlin, where our indigenous people have been recognised. You can see, looking back over time, that our place names reflect the issues important to our society at the time.
Ms Dundas says that it is important for young women to see, through their suburb and street names, how women have been part of our history. Place names can only ever play a small part in bringing that awareness to young people. There are many ways to ensure that our young people see and learn about the contribution that women make to our shared history. Educational programs are where young people often learn about the history of Australia. Of course, this also includes the important part played by Australian women in informing our history.