News / Council

Welcome to Merri-bek: name change becomes official

Logo to remain as council seeks to contain costs of renaming from Moreland

Deputy Chair of the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung Cultural Heritage Aboriginal Corporation, Uncle Andrew Gardiner, Local Government Minister Melissa Horne and Merri-bek Mayor Mark Riley at the renaming ceremony on Monday. Photo: Merri-bek City Council

Brunswick Voice
Monday, September 26, 2022

THE new Merri-bek Council has adopted the same logo used by the former City of Moreland in a move to quell some of the opposition to the city’s name change. 

As the City of Merri-bek officially came into being on Monday, the council revealed a minimalist approach to the change, retaining the stylised M that has been in use for most of Moreland’s 26-year existence. 

The change of name to an Indigenous word was officially marked by a small ceremony at the council offices in Coburg on Monday afternoon. Those present included Local Government Minister Melissa Horne and Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung Elders. 

Earlier, banners bearing the message ‘Welcome to Merri-bek: One community, proudly diverse’ were draped across council buildings, including the Brunswick Town Hall in Sydney Road. 

The change to Merri-bek, which means ‘rocky country’ in Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung dialect, became official after Victorian Governor Linda Dessau granted final approval earlier in September following a 10-month process to replace the now-discredited Moreland name. 

“We’re grateful that the state government has joined us on this shared journey of reconciliation with Traditional Owners, by supporting our process to choose a name that unites our community,” said Merri-bek Mayor Mark Riley.  

“I am honoured to be known as the Mayor of Merri-bek, a name which honours the rocky country of this land, and was chosen by our residents and Wurundjeri Elders.” 

The council has allocated $500,000 over the next two years for the name change. It has made modest updates to its branding, including retaining the existing logo, and will make changes to major signage and digital assets over the coming months.  

Other council assets, like street signs and park benches will be replaced as they normally would be due to wear and tear, over the next decade or more. 

“We’re not going to be changing everything at once, we’ll do it sensibly and judiciously and try to contain those costs as much as possible,” Cr Riley said on 3AW on Monday. 

A banner proclaiming the new name outside Brunswick Town Hall.

Merri-bek was chosen at the new name for the city by a community poll in June. 

The council engaged in a re-naming process after it was presented with fresh evidence late last year showing how Moreland’s name derived from a Jamaican sugar plantation that used slave labour in the 18th and 19th century. 

The slavery connections had been publicly known when the Kennett Government adopted the name Moreland for the new municipality formed from the amalgamation of the cities of Brunswick and Coburg in 1994. But over the subsequent decades, the links had been forgotten and current councillors said they were unaware of the origins of the name. 

The Moreland name is also now considered inextricably linked with the forced colonisation of traditional Indigenous lands. 

A small but vocal group of residents campaigned unsuccessfully against the renaming, arguing there had been a lack of transparency throughout the process. 

A number of community organisations have already changed their names to Merri-bek to align with the council, but there are no plans afoot at this stage to change other prominent landmarks such as Moreland Road or Moreland Station. 

Read more:

New city name approved by Governor