Are there any names you can’t legally call your baby in Australia?
It’s a question many wanted answered by the ABC’s new show What the FAQ, says Kirsten Drysdale, a journalist at the public broadcaster. So when Drysdale gave birth to her third son in July, she decided to put it to the test.
She submitted his given name to New South Wales Births, Deaths and Marriages as “Methamphetamine Rules”.
“We thought we would submit the most outrageous name we could think of, assuming it would be rejected,” she said. “But it didn’t turn out that way – unfortunately Methamphetamine Rules slipped through the cracks.”
A spokesperson for Births, Deaths and Marriages said the “unusual name” had “unfortunately slipped through”.
They said they had strengthened the registry’s process in response to this “highly unusual event”, and would be working with the family to change the name.
However, the spokesperson said that doesn’t mean the original name goes away.
“A name registered at birth remains on the NSW Births, Deaths and Marriages Register forever,” the spokesperson said. “Even if the name is formally changed.”
Drysdale said she had been deciding between “Methamphetamine Rules” and “Nangs Rule”, referring to the Australian slang for nitrous oxide canisters used to get a fleeting high.
But she decided against Nangs Rule in case the approver at the registry didn’t know what Nangs were and it was approved.
“We chose methamphetamine thinking there’s no way that anyone will see that word and think it’s OK,” said Drysdale, who added her husband took some convincing to agree to the experiment. “But we were wrong.”
Drysdale said she was under the impression that if a name was rejected by the registry, they choose one for you.
She had reached out to the registry for answers to her show’s segment on what names can be legally given to a baby in Australia which will air on Wednesday.
The spokesperson for NSW Births, Deaths and Marriages said it “does not choose what name parents give a child”.
However, the state government’s website detailing the rules states if a name for a baby cannot be registered and parents do not provide an alternative, the registrar may assign a name.
Under the rules, the registrar will not approve a name if it is offensive and not in the public interest. It also will not approve given names that are more than 50 characters, include symbols, or an official title or rank such as princess, Queen, or goddess.
Drysdale said she would not yet reveal what her baby’s new name is yet.
“My husband said maybe his nickname should be ‘Speedy’, but I’m sure he will develop his own nickname that’s appropriate to his real name and his personality,” Drysdale said.
“He’s a very chill child, a beautiful baby boy, so not anything like a meth user.”
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