La Trobe University Eco-corridor – Naming campaign, Australia

One of Melbourne’s most bio-diverse eco-corridors

Engaging the Wurundjeri people and the wider community to create a new identity for one of Melbourne’s most bio-diverse eco-corridors.

Now officially known as the ‘La Trobe Nangak Tamboree’ – meaning ‘sharing, respecting and looking after our waterway’ ‒ the eco-corridor neighbourhood is a very special place on the Melbourne campus of La Trobe University.

A living laboratory for students, staff and the wider community, its waterways connect with local creeks, attract wildlife and support native flora. Joining Darebin Creek in the south, the area runs through the Bundoora campus to the Wildlife Sanctuary, the agricultural reserve and beyond to the north. Nangak Tamboree is a key component of La Trobe University’s 10-year, AUD 5 billion University City of the Future plan.

For many years this biodiverse waterway corridor had no name, no identity and was a relatively unknown hidden asset, with the broader community unaware of its existence, connectivity or wider benefits. As part of the University’s long-term master plan, Aurecon was engaged to create a vision and a suite of short, medium and long-term capital works projects to enhance and protect this area over the coming years for the benefit of the land, the University and its neighbours.

Through comprehensive internal and external consultation, our team developed a communications and engagement plan, which played a central role in creating a new identity for this natural asset, engaging the land’s traditional owners, raising awareness of the area and building a sense of ownership among the wider community.

“The Eco-Corridor Neighbourhood Naming Project exemplified culturally appropriate consultation with, and therefore inclusion of, Indigenous stakeholders, both internally and externally. The process was transparent and clearly defined in terms of objectives and outcomes which is critical in terms of engagement.”

– Nellie Green, Acting Director of Indigenous Strategy and Education, La Trobe University

Empowering the traditional land owners

From the outset, Aurecon engaged in respectful and meaningful dialogue with the Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung Cultural Heritage Aboriginal Corporation and the University elder and Wurundjeri woman Aunty Joy Murphy.

Critical to success was empowering the Wurundjeri people to offer naming options for the area. Following extensive consultation, four proposed names from the Woiwurrung language were provided, with a narrative describing their significance to the Wurundjeri people: they reflected the flow of water through the land and the importance of sharing, protecting and looking after our special places.

This narrative proved vital during the wider community engagement process, overcoming potential language barriers and providing deeper insights into the meaning of each name.

Informing, educating and engaging the wider community

Aurecon led a survey-driven campaign to gather views on the four names, collated preferences and simultaneously educated the community about the Woiwurrung language and the cultural meaning behind the names.

Digital techniques, centred around an online interactive map, facilitated engaging people throughout and beyond the University community, and extended the boundaries to take what could have been a simple survey, to something much more meaningful and long-lasting.

Aurecon’s innovative use of digital media enabled the wider community to navigate and understand the area, while face-to-face activities targeted key groups including Indigenous students and staff. Our engagement strategy included:

  • Developing and implementing a multi-channel campaign to gather staff and student views of the naming options
  • Digital communications focused on an online interactive map that enabled users to explore the space and access key information. This map also provided information to educate users about the Indigenous language (Woiwurrung), culture and naming options.
  • Traditional media such as flyers, posters and a range of activities on campus, including pop-up stalls in the main square, that raised awareness of the eco-corridor neighbourhood and encouraged students, staff and visitors to participate
  • Engaging Indigenous students and staff by working closely with the University’s Indigenous officer and by hosting an Indigenous yarn at Ngarn-Gi Bagora, the University’s Indigenous support centre
  • Creating an online survey where users were able to share their own experience of the space while also indicating their preferred name

A total of 278 survey responses were submitted, resulting in the preferred name, Nangak Tamboree, highlighting the importance of ‘sharing, respecting and looking after the waterway’.

Traditional owners were further empowered by selecting the final name on completion of the survey. The Wurundjeri Land and Compensation Cultural Heritage Council and Aunty Joy Murphy agreed with the strong community preference for ‘Nangak Tamboree’. The name was unveiled and celebrated with new signage in a formal naming ceremony in April 2019.

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