MEE-BAR: Taribelang cultural deliverer Byron Broome and Taribelang Bunda elder Willie Broome at Mon Repos beach.
MEE-BAR: Taribelang cultural deliverer Byron Broome and Taribelang Bunda elder Willie Broome at Mon Repos beach. Mike Knott

Festival shock: Elders say council using wrong name

ORIGINAL elders are up in arms about the naming of Bundaberg Regional Council's inaugural Milbi Festival, saying the wrong Taribelang Bunda word was being used for the title.

When announcing the name, the council said Milbi was a Gurang word for turtle.

But Taribelang Cultural Aboriginal Corporation (TCAC)'s Byron Broome said the word "milbi" was a word for freshwater turtles in the Taribelang Bunda language.

"In the language of this country, which is Taribelang Bunda and has been for 70,000 years, the word for saltwater turtle, which is the native turtle, is 'mee-bar'," Mr Broome said.

"So if the turtles we are honouring here are saltwater, why is the wrong name being used?"

TCAC, Taribelang Bunda traditional owners and elders claim they voiced their concerns with the council on three separate occasions.

Mr Broome said TCAC were offered "a few minutes" at the official opening of the ceremony to discuss the issue, but he declined. "But what difference will that make?" he said.

"The name 'milbi' is wrong and it has to be fixed this year, for the first event.

"It needs to be the Mee-bar Festival.

"I have been asked to take part in this festival to deliver indigenous culture, but I wouldn't feel comfortable in it right now because of this confusion."

Mr Broome said he delivered culture education in schools and the native animals with language is one of the biggest points of interest for the next generation.

"I am getting phone calls from schools who are asking questions because of this confusion," he said.

"We have to keep cultural education real and council needs to be culturally responsive."

Yesterday a council spokeswoman said CQ Language Centre worked with the council to develop the Milbi Festival name, choosing an engaging word that connected with the theme.

"This name coincides with the 2019 focus as the International Year of indigenous Languages," she said.

"While there are many different language groups with different words for various turtle species within the region, the name 'Milbi' recognises the thousands of generations of people on this place we now call home.

"Council pays respect to the Taribelang Bunda, Gooreng Gooreng, Gurang and Bailai people of our region," the spokeswoman said.