Australia Post has marked NAIDOC Week by endorsing a campaign pushing for the use of traditional place names when sending mail.
The postal service expanded its addressing guidelines online to include how to formally use a traditional place name in an address “to acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the land your item is being delivered on”.
“Acknowledging the traditional custodians of this land, their ancestors, elders and the commitment to reconciliation with Indigenous Australians is very important to us,” it said in a statement.
“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. 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,” she wrote on Instagram on August 31, in her first post for the campaign account.
Yesterday – in the middle of Naidoc week – Australia Post publicly endorsed the idea, and added a section about including traditional place names in its guidelines for addressing mail. According to the guidelines, “you can include a Traditional Place name in either the address you’re sending from, or in the recipient’s address”.
Australia Post also shared the first official example on Instagram – a digital mock-up of an envelope addressed to McPhail, who lives on Wiradjuri Country. “Acknowledging the traditional custodians of this land, their ancestors, elders and the commitment to reconciliation with Indigenous Australians is very important to us,” reads the caption.
This move isn’t just culturally and geographically significant – it also impacts how Australia Post’s electronic letter-sorting technology works, so it’s important to follow the formatting guidelines properly. Here’s how you do it:
- When addressing mail, write the traditional place name after the recipient’s name, but before the street address, suburb or town.
- Senders can also add the traditional place name from the mail’s point of origin – this should also go after the sender’s name, but before the street address, suburb or town.
- To find traditional place names, check out this map from the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies, or ask the relevant local cultural centre.
A post shared by Rach Mac (@placenamesin_addresses) on Nov 9, 2020 at 9:42pm PST
McPhail says the next step, and the biggest challenge, will be to create a comprehensive and accurate database of traditional place names – verified by Elders – that people can cross-reference with post codes. “The logistics of that project is going to be huge because there’s so many different Countries, or nations, on this continent,” she said in an interview with the ABC yesterday.
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