Today the Australian Electoral Commission has unanimously agreed to rename the Division of Batman to Cooper, in recognition of William Cooper.
I am so thrilled – this is such welcome news. To have my electorate named after William Cooper, an incredible Indigenous leader who spent his lifetime working to advance the rights of First Nations peoples, is the greatest honour.
By changing the name from Batman to Cooper, we acknowledge the suffering of First Nations peoples caused by colonisation and our future as an inclusive and respectful society.
William Cooper helped to establish the Australian Aborigines League to advocate for a fair deal for Indigenous Australians – including land rights, enfranchisement and direct representation in the Parliament. Cooper forged the establishment of National Aborigines Day, first celebrated in 1940, which is now celebrated nationwide as NAIDOC week.
William is also famous for standing up for other persecuted groups. He led a protest at the German consulate in Melbourne against Nazi persecution of the Jewish community. This has been recognised by Yad Vashem in Jerusalem as the only protest of its kind to take place anywhere in the world.
William Cooper’s legacy as a Yorta Yorta man carries through his family and the incredible First Nations community organisations working in Melbourne and Australia.
I would like to acknowledge the Wurundjeri elders who have campaigned for a name change for many years and standing strong for the truth to be heard. I also acknowledge the Wurundjeri Land and Compensation Cultural Heritage Council, Darebin City Council, the Aboriginal Corporation and Yarra City Council for bringing this issue to the fore. I also want to recognise Tim Watts, the Member for Gellibrand, for his advocacy in recognising William Cooper’s legacy.
What an honour it will be to represent the seat of Cooper.