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We're the independent peak body for organisations, practitioners and individuals promoting gender equity in Victoria.

The names of towns and suburbs have a women’s problem

Across greater Melbourne where 165 suburbs commemorate people, just 3 suburbs honour women – Mt Matha, Mt Eliza and Brunswick.  Out in the fast-growing municipality of Cardinia, of the 34 suburbs seven are named after men including a US president, a Lord, gold digger and swamp drainer. None are named after women. In neighbouring City of Casey, zero town names are after women yet an entire estate in Berwick the streets are named after Essendon footballers and in the nearby suburb of Endeavour Hills streets are all named after the men from the Endeavour. Where is the equivalent dedicated area honouring women? There isn’t any!

What’s currently referred to as Pakenham East is about to become a first along the southeast corridor. With over 7,000 new homes it’s so big a new suburb is being created and it needs a new name. This new suburb will in name honour an incredible local woman 🎉🤸💗

The Cardinia Place Names Advisory Committee in consultation with Nar Nar Goon Progress Association, Koo Wee Rup Swam Historical Society, Berwick Pakenham Historical Society and Council have identified six names AND THEY ARE ALL WOMEN all local and all deserving of recognition. Here’s the proposed names and a snippet of their stories but do your own research these women are fascinating.

  • Leila – Leila Keating attended Officer State School and was the first woman to complete a medical degree at Melbourne University. Leila’s family built ‘Fairwood Park’ Officer.
  • Alice Park – Alice Henry grew up in Beaconsfield and become a prominent journalist and writer and active in the fight for women’s equality and wage rights.
  • Gwyn – Gwyn Mapperson, from Beaconsfield Upper, was actively involved in the local community, with the Upper Beaconsfield RSL and was a member of Legacy. In 1999 she was awarded a life membership with the Upper Beaconsfield RSL sub-branch.
  • Beatrice Park – Beatrice Thomas was the first female Shire Secretary at the Shire of Berwick. She was also an inaugural member of the then Historical Society of the Berwick Shire
  • Debra – Debra Bramley was an active member of the community as the assistant secretary of the Nar Nar Goon Progress Association, member of the Pakenham Uniting Church, Nar Nar Goon kinder committee and editor of the Goon News newsletter.
  • Honora – Honora Carney and her husband leased land between Pakenham and Nar Nar Goon from 1869. They had 7 children and ran a farming business before Michael passed away in 1880. Determined to keep the family farm, Honora purchased land in 1887 and 1902 and continued farming until her death in 1912

As Brooke Shelby wrote in the Pakenham Gazette in 2022 ‘Naming the Pakenham East development after a passed prominent local woman would be an “amazing” opportunity.’

This is the advocacy and outcomes we want to see much much more of and everyone can play a role in working towards commemorative justice.