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La Trobe Not Planning to Rename University Following ‘Aboriginal Dispossession’ Demands

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57 students and staff wrote to Yoorrook Justice Commission seeking a name change.

More than 50 staff and students are calling for a name change at La Trobe University due to the “dispossession of Aboriginal peoples” in colonisation.

The group wrote to Yoorrook Justice Commission proposing the university be renamed due to Charles La Trobe’s role in Victoria’s colonisation.

“Charles La Trobe played an integral role in the dispossession of the Aboriginal peoples of south-Eastern Australia from their lands,” the group argued.

Born in 1801 in London, La Trobe became the first lieutenant governor of the colony of Victoria when it separated from New South Wales in 1851.

A La Trobe University spokesperson told The Epoch Times it has “no current plans to change its name” although it is aware of the petition.

“Although the university has no current plans to change its name, we are always willing to hear feedback from our community, and particularly from First Nations students, staff, and communities that surround our campuses in Melbourne’s north and regional Victoria,” the spokesperson said. 

“La Trobe University is aware of a petition to the Yoorrook Justic Commission calling for the university to change its name from ‘La Trobe’ because of Charles La Trobe’s role in the colonisation of Aboriginal lands.”

The group arguing for the change said, “it must be acknowledged that La Trobe was the chief government official in Victoria during a period of genocidal violence.”

They noted the Indigenous population of Victoria declined by 80 percent between 1836 and 1853.

“La Trobe also oversaw a massive, rapid invasion of settlers into the unceded lands of the Kulin nations, and other Aboriginal countries in what became Victoria,” the submission to Yoorrook Justice Commission stated.

University Recognises Australia’s Colonial History

The spokesperson said the university recognises Australia’s colonial history and its ongoing impacts, including the history of the institution’s namesake.

“We are committed to promoting Indigenous leadership, self-determination, and knowledge, as demonstrated through our indigenous strategy launched last year. We support Indigenous peoples’ push for voice, treaty, and truth as described in the Uluru Statement from the Heart.”

Further, the La Trobe spokesperson explained the university’s Indigenous strategy was informed by extensive consultation with Indigenous staff and students.

“While a name change wasn’t raised during the consultation, this doesn’t mean it’s not a genuine concern for people,” the university spokesperson said.

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