A survivor of the infamous Cootamundra Girls’ Home has welcomed fresh calls for a treaty with Australia’s Indigenous people.
Fay Moseley was just 10 years old when she was taken from her family and said while a treaty wouldn’t heal all wounds, it would help restore a connection with the land.
“The hurt will still be there, I’ll die with that hurt in me,” she said.
“My father was one of the Rats of Tobruk, a war hero, he fought for this country and its people but then they took his children away and put us on a farm to work.
“This is where a lot of the problems stem from, if we can get young people back on country with mum and dad, we can pass on our knowledge.”
The renewed calls for a treaty come 40 years after land rights were first granted in NSW and state Aboriginal Land Council chair Roy Ah-See said it was a central part of a new strategic plan.
“A treaty is a practical way for NSW to deepen Aboriginal participation in the economy and the broader community,” Mr Ah-See said.
“This (plan) builds on the demands made at the NSW Aboriginal Land Council’s formation at the Black Theatre in Redfern back in 1977.
“To the demands for the full-scale recognition of Aboriginal rights to land we add a new demand - for a treaty.”
Ms Moseley said a treaty would also help give certainty to traditional owners about how the land would be used.
“Often when we’re given land grants they ask us to sign a 99 year lease to some company so they can still use it,” she said.
“By the time that’s passed there’s maybe five generations, they’ll grow up with no knowledge of that land.
“We could set up programs to run on the land, take in the kids in trouble and teach them about culture, the land and how to live on it.”
Greens MP Dawn Walker said both the Victorian and South Australian governments were in talks with Aboriginal people about state-based treaties and it was time for NSW to follow suit.
“The treaty process is a chance to help heal the past and move towards an equal partnership to ensure that we do not continue in the sorry tradition of making laws and decisions for Indigenous communities,” she said.
“We support Aboriginal voices being at the centre when it comes to making laws and policy affecting our communities.
“At both the state and federal level, we stand strong behind the call for treaties.”