Have you noticed the spare address line on Australia Post bags and forms and wondered what it is for?
Gomeroi woman Rachael McPhail has come up with the perfect use for the blank space and it’s turned into a national campaign.
Australia Post is being challenged to encourage Australians to include the traditional Nation name in the extra address line when sending letters and parcels as a way to acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land and celebrate Indigenous culture and history.
McPhail, who resides on Wiradjuri country near Wagga Wagga, is petitioning Australia Post, the government, businesses and all Australians to get behind the idea.
“I have a Zoom meeting booked in with Australia Post for Wednesday,” McPhail told HuffPost.
“I would love Australia Post and the government to make traditional place names an official part of the address information - the same as a postcode.
“This is a small thing … it could go a long way towards helping First Nations people feel included and respected.”
Like many First Nations women, McPhail’s great, great grandmother had to give up her Aboriginality when she had a baby to a white man.
This meant McPhail’s connection to her heritage was lost until researching her family history in her 30s. It was while she was watching a corroboree in Wagga last year that she felt grateful for the intergenerational resilience of First Nations people and their ability to pass on knowledge and culture despite it once being illegal for Indigenous people to speak language or participate in traditional customs. She told HuffPost she wants to give back.
“I celebrate my Aboriginal heritage for her (great, great grandmother) because she wasn’t able to,” McPhail said on ABC Illawarra Radio, adding that while she identifies as a Gomeroi woman she realises she still “benefits from white privilege”.
“Over the past few years I’ve been thinking of little ways I can make a difference or decolonise my way of thinking,” she said.
“I start my emails or messages with ‘Yaama’ which means ‘hello’ in Gomeroi. I acknowledge the country at my team meetings at work. This is another of those small things I could do to respect my heritage.”
McPhail’s Instagram account “place_names_in_addresses” has gained more than 4000 followers in a week and an overwhelming show of support in the comments section of her posts.
“I love this! Thank you for sharing this and educating us,” wrote an Instagram user.
“@auspost this is a brilliant idea!! Please get behind” wrote another.
Many of McPhail’s followers are now joining her in pushing online businesses like PayPal, Target, Coles and Woolworths to include the traditional place name as a standard part of address information on online forms.
“It takes a couple of extra seconds,” she said.
“And is a way for me to acknowledge that the place that I live is on the traditional lands of the Wiradjuri people.”
Australia Post told HuffPost in when it comes to the addressing of letters and parcels, people are welcome to include the traditional Nation name in the address.
“To ensure the item will be delivered correctly we recommend the traditional name is included below the recipient’s name but above the street address,” a spokesperson said.
70 Example Street
Melbourne, VIC, 3000
For more information on the traditional name of country, check out the AIATSIS map of Indigenous Australia