Indigenous leaders have warned Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews that renaming a hospital in honour of the Queen would hinder the reconciliation process.
Andrews’ announcement on Sunday that the Maroondah Hospital in Melbourne’s east would become The Queen Elizabeth II Hospital immediately drew fire from indigenous activists.
A petition signed by 1500 people described the move as “very regressive” and as damaging to “genuine reconciliation with First Nations people”.
The hospital is located in the city of Maroondah which was created in 1994 through an amalgamation of the former cities of Ringwood and Croydon.
“Maroondah” is an Aboriginal word meaning to throw leaves, according to the Maroondah City Council website.
Andrews, announcing a $1.5b upgrade to the hospital, said: “Queen Elizabeth holds a special place in the hearts of Victorians. A re-elected Andrews Labor Government will rebuild and expand Maroondah Hospital before renaming it in Her Majesty’s honour.”
He said it would provide a lasting legacy for the Queen.
But the petition against the name change insisted that replacing “a locally associated Aboriginal derived word” with the name “Queen Elizabeth II” would bring with it “colonialist historical contexts”.
Activists warned that it was unwise for the government to make such a move “when the state of Victoria is undergoing the treaty process with the First People’s Assembly of Victoria”.
Petitioners, who said they were in favour of the hospital upgrade, demanded to know if any Indigenous leaders had been consulted before deciding on the name change.