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New guidelines to promote Aboriginal language for place naming

  • Language provides an identity that connects people to culture, embodies traditions and passes on knowledge
  • Acknowledging Aboriginal names also acknowledges the relationship between people, Country and language
  • New guidelines will enable a consistent approach to naming areas of significance

Lands Minister Ben Wyatt has today launched the Aboriginal and Dual Naming Guidelines for naming Western Australian geographic features and places to help preserve and reawaken local languages through Aboriginal place names.

Developed in consultation with local governments, Aboriginal organisations and other key stakeholders, the guidelines give communities across Western Australia the tools to identify opportunities for Aboriginal place naming and implement them.

The emphasis of the guidelines is early engagement and consultation with the traditional owners, acknowledging the importance of their connection to Country.

Capturing and recording the original place names and their relationship to geographical features and places recognises and will help preserve Aboriginal cultural heritage.

The release of the guidelines coincides with NAIDOC Week, which this year recognises the continuous connection of Aboriginal people to language and Country.

The Minister has also today announced the renaming of Lake Disappointment to Kumpupintil Lake, an Aboriginal name that describes how the lake was made and its links to a Martu creation story where Martu warriors fought mighty giants in an epic battle.

The guidelines are available at

Comments attributed to Lands Minister Ben Wyatt:

"All Australians share a special relationship to the land. The names we give to places help to convey their significance, sense of history and identity.

"We want to make sure that reawakening local languages through place names is as easy as possible. These guidelines will help inspire local governments to continue to embrace local language names throughout Western Australia.

"Western Australia has a rich history that predates European contact. With over 90 Aboriginal languages, each language is deeply rooted to the land and offers an ideal opportunity to connect a name to a place.

"The Shire of Augusta Margaret River recently renamed a reserve in Margaret River town - Nguraren Kalleep (pronounced Naren Kah-leep) - meaning 'ringtail camp' in Wadandi dialect. The naming was undertaken in consultation with the Undalup Association and the South West Aboriginal Land and Sea Council and endorsed by Landgate. The name gives recognition to the Wadandi people as traditional custodians of the land.

"The McGowan Government strongly supports the recognition of Aboriginal heritage and acknowledges the important role traditional owners play."