Australia Post has officially backed a campaign calling for traditional place names to be inserted on mail items, a move the campaign’s creator says is a huge step forward when it comes to acknowledging and respecting Australia’s First Nations peoples.
The national postal service updated its website’s addressing guidelines page just two months after Gomeroi woman Rachael McPhail launched a change.org petition. The petition — which called for “place names to be made part of the official address information in Australia, the same as postcodes and street names” — has been signed over 15,000 times.
Australia Post’s endorsement comes in the same month as this year’s National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee (NAIDOC) Week, a time dedicated to celebrating the history, culture and achievements of Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
"Acknowledging the traditional custodians of this land, their ancestors, elders and the commitment to reconciliation with Indigenous Australians is very important to us,” Australia Post wrote on Instagram. “That's why we've worked on how you can include traditional place names when sending and receiving your parcel.”
On its website, Australia Post encourages individuals to source unknown Indigenous names at cultural centres or via AIATSIS, Australia's only national institution focused exclusively on the history and heritage of First Nations Australians.
The traditional titles should be placed after the sender and recipient’s name, but before the street address, according to Australia Post.
People across Australia have commended McPhail for launching the campaign and Australia Post for following through.
One Twitter user remarked how “small changes can go a long way to reforming culture,” while another commented that future generations will now be better placed to “recognise the traditional owners of our land.”
Sarah Sheridan, the director of operations at Aboriginal-owned enterprise Closing the Gap, has also backed the idea. Sheridan has added a line for the traditional place name on the enterprises' e-commerce forms, used by customers when ordering products online.
"That parcel goes through so many hands to get from us through to someone's mailbox, or door, at the end of the process,” Sheridan told ABC News. "Every single person in that line reads that and is prompted to think about whose country they are really on."
In an update posted to the change.org petition page, McPhail said all the support for her campaign is “heartening.”
While “this is an important first step towards decolonisation in Australia,” McPhail has gone one step further and called on Australia Post to create and publish an exhaustive national database of traditional place names, in consultation with Indigenous Elders across the country.
"Indigenous Elders from all Countries and Nations on this continent must be consulted with, in order to create a comprehensive, Indigenous-informed database that records the original place names from before colonisation,” McPhail said. “If there is any organisation that has the capacity to undertake this project, it is Australia Post.”
McPhail has also called on other organisations, universities and businesses to encourage the use of traditional place names.