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Since the 1950s the United Nations has recognised the need to standardise geographical names and have published many guidelines and directives in respect to this issue. Following the Geographical Names Act 1966, the New South Wales Government complied with United Nations directions and established the Geographical Names Board (the Board) to administer place names within the state.

The Board is empowered by the Geographical Names Act 1966 which provides it the power to assign names to places to:

  • investigate and determine the form, spelling, meaning, pronunciation, origin and history of any geographical name and
  • determine the application of each name with regard to position, extent or other reference.

The Board is committed to providing NSW with the best possible service and is at the forefront of international ‘best practice’ methodologies in the field of toponymy. The Board ensures its practices, guidelines and policies adhere to international standards in this area. By doing this, issues dealing with duplication, orthography, position and extent in regards to place names are minimised.

Organisations such as local councils and map publishers rely heavily on the Board to provide authoritative toponyms for use on signs and maps. The Board’s determinations with respect to official suburbs and localities are used by the real estate industry for describing property locations.

To ensure the Board's decisions are based on sound academic research, the Board has constituted a Technical and Scientific sub-committee. The committee investigates issues pertaining to linguistic consistency for various names relating to traditional Aboriginal languages, the investigation and development of reports relating to nomenclature issue and ongoing training and research programs for the Board.

As a Department of Finance, Services and Innovation related entity, the GNB adheres to the Business Ethics Statement on the Department of Finance, Services and Innovation website.

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