The Victorian Government is facing a backlash from Indigenous groups after it unveiled plans to rename a major metropolitan hospital in honour of the late Queen.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews announced the decision over the weekend to rename Maroondah Hospital to Queen Elizabeth II Hospital “as a mark of respect to her unwavering commitment to healthcare and our community”.
He said the facility in Melbourne’s outer east will also undergo a $850 to $1,050 million redevelopment and expansion, with construction starting in 2025.
“This redevelopment means the growing eastern suburbs will have a hospital to keep providing them with the best possible care,” Mr Andrews said on Twitter.
“Hospitals, healthcare and the healthcare workers Victoria needs.”
However, the tribute now appears to be in jeopardy after being dubbed a “huge mistake” by doctors and Aboriginal health groups.
The Victorian Greens said they would introduce a motion in the state’s parliament to reverse the decision.
Victoria’s Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation said ‘Maroondah’, also the name of the hospital’s local council area, was an Aboriginal word meaning “throwing leaves” and had a special significance for Indigenous people.
Its CEO Jill Gallagher said the proposed name change was “deeply hurtful and upsetting”.
“Renaming the Maroondah hospital will see yet another piece of our culture erased and replaced by the culture of the invaders,” she said on Monday.
“Culture needs to be seen and understood as a protective and healing factor for Aboriginal people. Anything that takes away from our culture has detrimental impacts on the health and wellbeing of our people.”
Surgeon Dr Neela Janakiramanan added: “Maroondah Hospital is the only hospital I can think of in Victoria with an Aboriginal name.”
“Inclusive healthcare starts from the signage on.”
It’s not the only major health facility facing a possible rebrand following the death of the Queen this month.
Last week, the Brisbane Times reported there was a push to rename the city’s Prince Charles Hospital to reflect its namesake’s upgraded position.
Royal fever is running high in Queensland as the LNP opposition launches a petition to rename Brisbane’s Cross River Rail project “The Elizabeth Line” in honour of Queen Elizabeth II.
There’s also a push to change the name of Prince Charles Hospital to King Charles Hospital.
— Eden Gillespie (@edengillespie) September 13, 2022
Formerly known as the Chermside Hospital, it was given its present name after a visit by the then-Prince of Wales in 1974.
A spokesperson for Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said it was too early to consider a rebrand to King Charles Hospital, although they hinted it may happen in the future if considered appropriate.
“There is no plan to change the name at this stage,” he told the publication (link here).
“It is like the money. There will be changes, but it is too soon. It will happen over time, and we have to wait for the palace to work some things out.”