Cutural Awarness | When to use names of people and place and when not to


This article is relevant for those you are willing to travel in Australia.

Using Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander names of people and places is not a problem when it is clear that this is allowed because your host (if you have one) has used the names or they appear on signs.

Don’t get me wrong… Some Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander names are difficult to pronounce, but it is always worth trying! You may get it right, and no one will be offended if you tried and didn’t say it correctly.

There are rules about names that cannot be used, but usually these rules are confined to the Indigenous society. However, I do believe it is important to be aware, increase our knowledge and follow those customs.

When Not to Use a Persons Name

In many areas, when a person dies, the name and images of that person cannot be used at all until the family of the decesead makes a public declaration that the taboo has been lifted. In case of famous Aboriginal people, it may be some years before this happens.

When Not to Use a Place Name

Place names that are the same as, or similar to a decesead person’s name eill not be used by Aboriginal People in the areas where these traditions are followed.

For some years, Alice Springs was referred as Kumunjayi by the local people because of the death of a woman with the same first name as the town.

You may notice that tv and websites that broadcast or publish photographs/ videos of Aboriginal People provide warnings at the beginning of the content so that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People will be aware that they are likely to see images of decesead people.

They are showing respect for the cultural protocols of the First Australians, and help other Australians to understand these cultural differences.


I’m Sofia, a Portuguese native, who, quit my job, packed 20 kg of my life into a backpack and moved to Australia. I have been fuelled by my new life to experience more adventure rather than settle, pursing even more my desire to travel, explore and being outdoors.

This blog aims to inspire, intrigue and encourage readers around the world to travel further, longer and wider and also to share my passion for an outdoor lifestyle.

Go top
Translate »