A petition to name the Kangaroo Flat aquatic centre after Bendigo Olympian Faith Leech has gained almost 500 signatures.
The document urges the City of Greater Bendigo to reconsider its position after it voted to provisionally name the facility the “Gurri Wanyarra Wellbeing Centre” last month.
“Gurri Wanyarra” means Kangaroo Waterhole, which references the creek close to the facility, and was a name submitted by the Dja Dja Wurrung.
“The basis of our objection to the council decision is based upon the view that the centre should be named after a person who will inspire people of all ages, gender, and ability to strive to use the facility in the same spirit,” the petition reads.
The petition proposes naming the area surrounding the precinct, including the CFA training facility and future dog park, as the Gurri Wanyarra precinct.
“We consider it essential that the Dja Dja Wurrung nation as traditional owners of the land are appropriately recognised and respected and will work with them and council to develop a plan that acknowledges the cultural significance of the entire precinct,” it reads.
Faith Leech’s son Adam Tuohy instigated the petition, which was placed in the family’s jewellery store in Hargreaves Mall – J.M Leech jewellers.
“I believe if we had done something online we would have got a lot more numbers. Everyone I’ve spoken to is scratching their heads thinking ‘what’s going on here’ (with the provisional name),” he said.
“But also if you consider that only 25 people submitted name preferences for the pool, I think that (452) is significant.
“It screams out that the community wants the name to be Faith Leech.”
Director of the Kangaroo Flat Community Enterprise Geoff Bowyer recently told the Bendigo Advertiser it would consider challenging the Indigenous name given to the aquatic centre.
Mr Bowyer at the time said Gurri Wanyarra should form the name of the overall precinct, which included a dog park, sporting ovals and other infrastructure, and the pool itself should be named after Faith Leech.
The community enterprise has been contacted by the Bendigo Advertiser.
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Council will prepare a response to the petition, which will be discussed at the council meeting on October 18.