OSG Place Names FAQs


Place Names FAQs

1. What are place names? 
A place is defined as any area, region, locality, city, suburb, town, township, or settlement, or any geographical or topographical feature, and includes any railway station, hospital, schools, and any other place or building that is, or is likely to be, of public or historical interest. Place names play a crucial role in navigation, communication, and the establishment of a sense of identity and history for various places. In South Australia, a geographical name is a name assigned to, or approved as, the name of a place under the Geographical Names Act 1991.  
2. Who is the place naming authority in South Australia?
Under the Geographical Names Act 1991 of South Australia, the Surveyor-General is designated as the naming authority.  The Surveyor-General is responsible for overseeing the naming of geographical features, places, and landmarks within the state of South Australia, as well as maintaining the accuracy and consistency of the place names database.
3. What are place naming principles? 
Place naming principles are a set of guidelines and regulations established by the Intergovernmental Committee on Surveying and Mapping (ICSM) to govern the process of assigning names to geographical features, locations, and places. These principles help ensure that place names are chosen and approved in a systematic, consistent, and culturally sensitive manner.  For more information about the naming principles in South Australia review the guidelines for naming geographical places.
4. Why do we have place naming principles? 
Place naming principles serve to bring order, consistency, and cultural sensitivity to the naming of places. They play a crucial role in everyday life, from facilitating navigation and emergency response to preserving cultural heritage and promoting inclusivity. These principles are essential for effective governance and the well-being of communities within a region.
5. What can be named or renamed in accordance with the Geographical Names Act 1991?
Geographical features such as towns, suburbs, streets, rivers, mountains, parks, landmarks, and buildings can be named using the Intergovernmental Committee on Surveying and Mapping (ICSM) Principles for the Consistent Use of Place Names.
6. Who can propose a new name or a name change? 
Anyone, including individuals, community groups, local governments, and relevant stakeholders, can propose a new place name or a name change for a geographical feature. The process for proposing new names involves submitting an application or proposal to the Geographical Names Unit (GNU).  The GNU will then assess the proposal based on established naming principles, guidelines, and criteria.  The Office of the Surveyor-General and Minister in accordance with the act and guidelines makes the final decision on whether to approve or reject a proposed name or name change.
7. Who can propose a suburb/locality boundary realignment?
Anyone, including individuals, community groups, local governments, and relevant stakeholders, can propose a suburb/locality boundary realignment.  The process involves a formal submission to the Geographical Names Unit.  In most cases the proposal must have the full support and endorsement of the associated council before it can be formally considered and accepted by the Surveyor-General.

8. Who can develop a naming or renaming proposal? 
In South Australia, as per the responsibilities outlined in the Geographical Names Act 1991, various authorities and organisations have specific roles in the development of naming or renaming proposals for different types of geographical features and locations. A breakdown of who can develop naming or renaming proposals for various categories:
  • Surveyor-General: The Surveyor-General typically assumes the responsibility of overseeing the place naming process in South Australia. This includes the naming and renaming of various geographical features, such as towns, suburbs, streets, rivers, mountains, parks, and landmarks. The Office of the Surveyor-General (Geographical Names Unit), is responsible for processing and managing proposals for these types of names.
  • Local Councils: Local government authorities, or councils, are responsible for naming local government areas, wards, and features such as reserves and public roads under their care, control, and maintenance. This includes naming or renaming streets, and other features within their jurisdictions. 
  • Electoral Commission: The Electoral Commission is responsible for the naming of electoral districts in South Australia. This ensures that electoral boundaries are accurately identified and designated for political representation.
  • Commissioner for Highways: The Commissioner for Highways is tasked with assigning names to state-maintained roads and infrastructure, including main arterial roads, highways, bridges, tunnels, overpasses, and other transportation-related features. The Surveyor-General, in accordance with the Geographical Names Act 1991, is responsible for this task.
  • Commissioner of Railways: The Commissioner of Railways is responsible for assigning names to rail infrastructure, including railway lines, stations, and related features. Like state-maintained roads, the Surveyor-General undertakes this task in accordance with the Geographical Names Act 1991.
9. How can I submit a new place name? 
To submit a request for assigning the name of a geographical place, visit the SA website and follow the guidelines for naming geographical places.
10. What should my submission for a place name or name change include? 
When submitting a proposal for a place name or name change it is essential to provide a comprehensive and a well-structured submission that includes all the necessary information.
  • Proposed Name: Clearly state the name you are proposing or the name you wish to change. Make sure the name is spelled correctly and is easy to understand.
  • Type of Geographical Feature: Specify the type of geographical feature or location to which the name applies. Is it a town, suburb, street, river, mountain, park, or another type of feature?
  • Rationale: Provide a detailed explanation of why you are proposing this name or requesting a change. Explain the significance of the name and why it is appropriate for the feature or location. Include any historical, cultural, or geographical reasons for the choice.
  • Supporting Documentation: Include any relevant supporting documents that strengthen your proposal. This may include historical records, maps, photographs, or references to authoritative sources that back up your proposal.
  • Historical Context: If the name has historical significance, provide background information about its historical use and relevance to the area. Explain any historical events, figures, or cultural connections associated with the proposed name.
  • Cultural Relevance: If the proposed name has cultural significance, explain its cultural relevance and connection to the indigenous or local community. Include information about any traditions, stories, or cultural meanings associated with the name.
  • Consultation: If you have consulted with relevant stakeholders, such as indigenous groups or local communities, include documentation of these consultations and any written support or endorsements you have received. Ensure that indigenous naming proposals have the written support of the relevant traditional owners.
  • Pronunciation and Meaning: Provide details about the pronunciation of the proposed name, especially if it includes non-standard characters or sounds. Explain the meaning of the name and its significance.
  • Background Story: If there is an interesting or compelling background story related to the proposed name, share it to provide context and depth to your proposal.
  • Contact Information: Include your contact information in case the Geographical Names Unit needs to reach you for further clarification or communication regarding your proposal.
11. What happens after I submit my proposal? 
After you submit your proposal for a place name or name change, the process typically involves a series of steps, including review, consultation, and public notification. Here's what typically happens after you submit your proposal:
  • Initial Review: The Office of the Surveyor-General responsible for geographical names will conduct an initial review of your proposal. This review will assess whether your proposal complies with naming rules, guidelines, and principles, as well as whether it aligns with accuracy, cultural sensitivity, and relevance criteria.
  • Consultation with Local Councils: The Geographical Names Unit may send written notices detailing the proposal to each local council with potential interest in the naming or renaming decision. Councils often have a say in the process, especially when it involves places within their jurisdictions. They will be invited to make written submissions to the Minister within a specified timeframe, typically one month from receiving the notice.
  • Public Notification: A public notice will be published on the SA website and Government Gazette, inviting individuals from the public to submit written feedback or objections to the Minister within a specified timeframe. This public notification allows for transparency and ensures that community members have the opportunity to provide input on the proposed name or name change. The public feedback period is typically one month from the date of publication.
  • Review and Decision: The Office of the Surveyor-General will consider all submitted proposals, including those from local councils and public feedback. They will evaluate the proposal based on established criteria, including cultural sensitivity, historical significance, and community input. After this comprehensive review, a decision will be made regarding the proposed name or name change.
  • Notification of Outcome: Once a decision is reached, the Office of the Surveyor-General will notify you and all relevant stakeholders, including council and individuals who provided feedback, of the outcome. The notification will indicate whether the proposal has been approved, rejected, or requires modifications. If approved, the authority will take the necessary steps to officially assign the name to the geographical place.
12.   How can I object to a proposal?
Review the Proposal: Carefully review the proposal in question. Understand its details, implications, and the reasons behind your objection.
Prepare Your Feedback: Before sending your objection, organise your thoughts and prepare your feedback. Your objection should be clear, concise, and well-structured. Here's what your feedback should include:
  • Your Name and Address: Include your full name and current address. This information is necessary for your objection to be considered valid.
  • Reasoning: Clearly state your reasons for objecting to the proposal. Be specific and provide evidence or examples to support your objections. Make sure your objections are related to the proposal's content and potential impact.
  • Alternative Suggestions: If you have alternative solutions or suggestions that could address the concerns you've raised, include them in your feedback.
  • General Comments: You can also provide any additional general comments or observations related to the proposal. These comments may help clarify your objections or provide context.
Send Your Feedback:
  • Email Address: Send your feedback to DTI.PlaceNames@sa.gov.au
  • Subject Line: Clearly mention the subject of your email
  • Attachments: If you have any supporting documents or evidence, attach them to your email. Make sure they are relevant to your objections.
Deadline: Ensure that you submit your objection within the specified 1-month window of the formal public consultation stage. Missing the deadline may result in your objection not being considered.
Follow-Up: If there are updates or developments related to the proposal, stay informed and consider participating in any subsequent stages of the consultation process.
Engage: While you may be objecting to the proposal, try to maintain a constructive and respectful tone in your feedback. This increases the likelihood that your objections will be taken seriously and considered during the decision-making process.
Advocate: If you are part of a larger group or community that shares your objections, consider mobilising support and encouraging others to submit their objections as well. Collective action can have a stronger impact.
13. What is the process for updating the South Australian Property and Planning Atlas (SAPPA) with a place name? 
Contact the Office of the Surveyor-General, Geographical Names Unit via the following email DTI.PlaceNames@sa.gov.au with any questions relating to place names that have not been updated within SAPPA.
14. When is the State and National place name database (Gazetteer) updated?
The Surveyor-General has the authority to enter a name into the South Australian Gazetteer and the South Australian Property and Planning Atlas (SAPPA) upon a formal public notice appearing in the SA Government Gazette, confirming the proposal.  The National Gazetteer is updated regularly to reflect the SA Gazetteer database.
15. How frequently is the place name database updated? 
The place name database is regularly updated to incorporate approved name changes, new names, and other relevant updates.

16. How can I report an error or discrepancy in the place name database? 
If you come across an error or discrepancy in the place name database, contact the Geographical Names Unit to report the issue at DTI.PlaceNames@sa.gov.au.

We acknowledge and respect Aboriginal peoples as the state's first peoples and nations, and recognise them as traditional owners and occupants of land and waters in South Australia. Further, we acknowledge that the spiritual, social, cultural and economic practices of Aboriginal peoples come from their traditional lands and waters, that they maintain their cultural and heritage beliefs, languages and laws which are of ongoing importance, and that they have made and continue to make a unique and irreplaceable contribution to the state. We acknowledge that Aboriginal peoples have endured past injustice and dispossession of their traditional lands and waters.