The Homans sign on a street in Melbourne’s inner west is a sign of the region’s diverse ethnic, racial and religious communities.
The sign was first erected by the Indigenous community in 1912 to commemorate a community that had been forcibly relocated to Tasmania from a small settlement in Victoria.
It now features a sign reading “Homans” on a wall next to a tree.
The original sign, which is a wooden plaque, dates from the 1930s and was painted in a dark blue.
A replica is currently up for auction at the Carlton auction house in Melbourne.
The Aboriginal community has maintained that the sign is a reminder of the way in which they were forcibly relocated and was therefore “a reminder to those that live here today of their past”.
It was erected by Aboriginal residents who came to Melbourne in the 1880s, when the Tasmanian government sought to remove Aboriginal people from their homes in the state.
Its construction prompted fierce opposition and eventually, in 1937, the sign was taken down.
The community has repeatedly argued that the original sign was not intended to be a symbol of discrimination and was in fact “a symbol of history”.
“It was an act of courage to stand up for your rights, and the way you’ve lived for centuries, and to stand on the front lines of a fight for Indigenous rights,” Homans owner Paul Jelinek told news.com.au.
“And that was a great thing.
But it was also an act that is a symbol that the people of the community that have fought for so long have got their backs against the wall, and they’ve been standing up for their rights.”
The Homans community has been the subject of many complaints about the sign.
In 2013, a woman who worked at the shop in the 1970s was charged with breaching section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act.
In 2016, an Indigenous woman was charged for allegedly breaching section 16 of the act.
In 2018, a man from the community was charged over an alleged breach of section 18B of the Act.
A spokeswoman for the Victorian Aboriginal Land Council said it was “disappointed” the Homans had “made a significant breach of Aboriginal heritage” by the original design.
“The original design was not a respectful depiction of the homans community, and we are disappointed that the current design will continue to be associated with a divisive and derogatory image,” the spokeswoman said.
“We would encourage the Victorian Government to consider changing the original designs so that they are respectful to the history of the Homan community.”