Bega Valley Shire entrance signs may be revamped after outrage

One of the welcome signs that was planned to be installed south of Eden.

One of the welcome signs that was planned to be installed south of Eden.

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Following public outrage on social media, and consultation with community members, Bega Valley Shire Council’s controversial tourist welcome signs may see yet another revamp.

Last week, the proposed signs carrying the Dhurga language, were posted to Facebook, raising the concern of the region’s traditional custodians, who took to Facebook along with members of the wider community to voice their opinion.

Many said the language being used was inaccurate for the Bega Valley and offensive to traditional custodians.

One post said it would be like “driving into Paris welcomed by signs written in Spanish”.

On Thursday a council spokesperson said the signs will now move away from focusing on language and acknowledge the region’s traditional custodians.

“We are very much at the start of the proposal,” they said.

Djiringanj and Ngarigo elder Aunty Colleen Dixon said she is pleased the new proposal will now recognise her people and her ancestors.

“People are putting all kinds of other languages everywhere without our consultation,” she said.

“Especially when it comes to tourism it has to be the truth, we want history to be correct.

“It is good, it seems things are going to change.

“The most important thing is when it comes to the younger generation coming through, that when the time comes when we are not here, that they can see the truth on Country.”

Djiringanj and Ngarigo elder Aunty Ellen Mundy also said incorrect interpretations of traditional culture created without traditional custodian consultation appear throughout the Bega Valley region.

“They are sitting in Bega, which is the heart of Djiringanj country, which starts at Narooma and goes as far as Merimbula and west to the bottom of Nimmitabel,” she said.

“We grew up with the remnants of our language, and a lot of language still being spoken and a lot of it did survive.

“Things like Yuin and Dhurga weren’t familiar to us, only maybe through intermarriage.”

Following a redesign, council will consult with more traditional custodians from next week, and the idea will also be put to the Bega, Eden and Merrimans Local Aboriginal Land Councils, council said.