You should start to see more First Nations place names on your mail after Gomeroi woman Rachael McPhail’s campaign to have them included in all Australian postal addresses has been realised.
Today, Australia Post launched newly designed Parcel Post and Express Post satchels with an official space for Indigenous place names. A line entitled “Traditional place names (if known)” can now be found on the satchels under “Contact name” and above “Street address”. You can also include the traditional name of the place you’re sending the package from on the back of the satchel.
“Adding in the nation or country that you are on is something easy that all Aussies can do to be more inclusive of our Indigenous history,” McPhail wrote on Instagram on August 31 last year, in her first post for the campaign account. “I would love for @auspost to make the original place name a standard part of address information in Australia, the same as your house number and postcode.”
Australia Post responded in November last year by publicly endorsing the idea and adding information to its guidelines on how people could do it. It’s now made it official in time for Naidoc Week with the new satchels, which should start to appear at your local post office.
“Including the traditional place name as part of the mailing address is a simple but meaningful way to promote and celebrate our Indigenous communities, which is something Australia Post has a long and proud history of doing,” Australia Post’s national Indigenous manager and Noongar man Chris Heelan says in a statement.
Heelan says the institution introduced the initiative in response to McPhail’s campaign, but also because of “the overwhelming feedback from thousands of Australians who supported this fantastic concept to recognise traditional country on their mail”.
McPhail, who lives on Wiradjuri country in NSW, is excited about the news. “For every town, every place in this country we had an original name and I think it’s important to use those names as a celebration,” she said on ABC News.
Australia Post has added instructions to help customers add the place names in its addressing guidelines.
“To acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land your item is being delivered on, you can include those place names in the address field. To find traditional place names, check Aiatsis [Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies], Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander land councils, or cultural centres in your local area. When sending items you can include a traditional place name in either the address you’re sending from, or in the recipient’s address.”
McPhail says the next step, and the biggest challenge, will be to create a comprehensive database of traditional place names – verified by elders – that people can cross-reference with postcodes.
The most up-to-date map, and the one Australia Post endorses, was created by Aiatsis in 1996. The institute says the map “only shows the general locations of larger groupings of people which may include clans, dialects or individual languages in a group”.