A petition by a young girl to change the name of a Perth street because of its offensiveness to the Indigenous community has been shot down by a local council.
Grace, 12, submitted the petition in July to change Blackboy Court in Thornlie to Grasstree Court after learning about First Nations history at school.
But councillors at the City of Gosnells voted against the change at a meeting on November 30, following heated opposition from the other residents.
‘At school, we’ve been taught about the history of this country and I feel strongly empathetic when I think about all the Aboriginal Australians who have suffered,’ Grace said.
The street in Thornlie, half an hour out of Perth, became a point of contention earlier this year after a 12-year-old girl started a petition to change the name due to its offensiveness to Indigenous people
‘I cannot change the past, but I can try and change the future.’
The schoolgirl said she had consulted a First Nations friend who supported the name change, PerthNow reported.
‘I have spoken with an Aboriginal friend and he told me that he finds (the) street name very offensive and he said I was doing the right thing,’ she added.
‘I would love it if the street name was changed from Blackboy Court to Grasstree Court.’
The proposal sparked animosity amongst the residents, with one local starting up an opposing petition that gathered 26 signatures.
Graeme Capstick argued the street name has always been in plain view, with many people from various cultural backgrounds passing by without complaint.
A report by Gosnells Council said the term ‘blackboy’ was an informal name for the native xanthorrhoea plant, or grass trees
‘This in itself surely would support the fact that a majority of people and cultures do not in any way find it racially vilifying, derogatory or offensive,’ he said.
‘The name itself, being one word, is not a description of a coloured child but simply a common botanical name.’
The term ‘blackboy’ is another name for xanthorrhoea plants or grass trees, a City of Gosnells report read, with many of the surrounding street names in Thornlie also including native Australian flora.
Residents of the 16 homes on Blackboy Court also declared the name change would be inconvenient, causing them to have to change their official address details.
The petition caused animosity amongst the residents, with one local Graeme Capstick arguing it would be inconvenient to have to change their official address details
Councillor Peter Abetz added: ‘To expect the residents of that street to go through the inconvenience of notifying all their insurers and banks and everything else … I really think is quite unnecessary.’
‘Let’s not look for offence where there’s no need to take offence.’
Blackboy Court was constructed in the late 1980s, with the name approved by the Department of Land Administration (now Landgate) in 1988.
It was unanimously agreed upon by council to take no action on the matter.