Widespread community support for adopting the name "Mullawallah" for a new school reflects a marked shift in community attitude, according to city leaders.
A state government poll to name the school, currently under construction in Lucas, has suggested two names: Lucas Primary School and Mullawallah Primary School.
High-profile sporting leader Gerard "Ftizy" FitzGerald said naming the school after the indigenous elder would be a "catalyst" for generations to come.
"We celebrate our history in finding gold, why can't we also begin to lead the way in recognition and begin to learn about our Aboriginal history," Mr FitzGerald said.
"I think we can do something really special.
"[Mullawallah] lives on for the life of the school and then all of the students and community could learn about the Mullawallah story and the indigenous community."
Indigenous elder Murray Harrison said he supports the proposal, but would prefer the name be adopted without a "divisive" vote.
"This would definitely be a lasting tribute to Uncle Mullawallah and show again the community truly believe in who he was," Mr Harrison said.
"Let's do it and make sure people understand we're doing it for the right reasons."
The poll comes five years after controversy engulfed a proposal to name a new suburb after Mullawallah.
Councillor Des Hudson, who in 2014 voted to abandon the name, said the support for Mullawallah Primary School reflected strong respect for the indigenous community.
"I think it's a great name selection for the new school," Cr Hudson said.
"I think certainly seeing the name Mullawallah emerge as a very strong candidate name for the school it does demonstrate that Ballarat is certainly respectful of our indigenous culture and wanting to recognise it in a variety of ways."
Councillor Samantha McIntosh, who also voted not to use the name for a suburb, said she supported the use of indigenous names but stopped short of backing Mullawallah Primary School.
"I think that where we have embraced the significance of the history it has been supported by the broader community," Cr McIntosh said.
Member for Wendouree Juliana Addison said the vote was a chance for the community to shape their school.
"The people living in the [school's] zone, this is going to be their school - I really want to empower the community to get involved with this process," Ms Addison said.
Mr Harrison said at the end of the day he wanted to see the community united.
"I don't want to see this cause division again," Mr Harrison said.
"Community comes first."
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