A vandal's act against a sign displaying traditional Aboriginal language is proof racism is still alive in the south-west, a Gunditjmara Elder says.
The Warrnambool City Council this week reinstated a sign in the Peek-Whuurong language of the Maar Nation at the footbridge on Viaduct Road.
The previous sign which had been up only a few weeks was vandalised over the weekend.
Gunditjmara Elder Uncle Robbie Lowe Senior said the act showed there was a way to go with education around Indigenous history and heritage in the region.
"It just goes to show that some of the people in Warrnambool are just the same as they were, and that's never going to stop, but this is about trying to re-educate," Mr Lowe said.
"Hopefully the future is going to be better for the younger generations. This is to make people aware Indigenous sites are everywhere here - the dunes are full of them."
Mr Lowe said when he approached the then local council 35 years ago with the idea of erecting a sign in traditional language, the proposal was torn up and thrown in the bin in front of him.
"That was 35 years ago," he said. "It's great that now the local council now acknowledge the Indigenous people and language. We've finally got that recognition."
Mr Lowe said it added to a long list of Indigenous sites being destroyed or damaged in the region - around 15 in Warrnambool alone.
The sign says 'Kuurn naa Mullin' which means 'small islands' in the Peek-Whuurong language of the Maar Nation.
The coast from the mouth of the Merri River - or Gnulla Milip - to The Cutting is particularly important to local Aboriginal people.
It was an area where people gathered, prepared food and engaged in cultural traditions.
Warrnambool councillor Vicki Jellie said it was likely the sign vandal was caught on nearby CCTV.
"The history is right here and it's wonderful to learn, educate ourselves and acknowledge and respect what's been here and what is still here," Cr Jellie said.
"Something like this has got a true meaning and we've worked hard to get it there, and we really respect the meaning of the sign, so it's disappointing that someone would disrespect that."
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