Four year six students from Ashmont Public School have become authors, telling the compelling story of a local Aboriginal Elder.
Coinciding with this year’s NAIDOC Week theme ‘Because of her, we can’, students Melodie Warner, Georgia Hampton, Jerchana Williams and Sarah Parker sat down with Aunty Fay Clayton Moseley to share her challenging but compelling life story.
Wiradjuri Elder from Leeton, Aunty Fay was separated from her parents and eight siblings when she was 10 years old in 1956 on her way to school.
The removal came as a great shock as her father was a returned serviceman with four years of service during World War Two and local authorities had stated that the children were well cared for and had signed off on a exemption certificate.
Aunty Fay recalled that her father went to war to protect all Australians, but “he couldn’t protect his own kids”.
“It used to be hard to share my story, even now I talk about it and I get a bit emotional, but I’m of the opinion that these stories have to come out so that everyone is aware of what happened and why we were taken,” Aunty Fay said.
“We weren’t taken because we were neglected, it was because we were Aboriginal.”
Aunty Fay said she was reluctant to meet her mother again following the many lies that were told to her during her time away, but after nine years of separation she reunited with her mother.
Now 72-years-old, Aunty Fay now lives in Wagga after coming back from Sydney to reconnect with her family.
She hopes this story will shed light on the history of the Stolen Generation and shared to other students.
“These girls have been such an inspiration to me, because it’s been a two-way learning process and I’ve learnt that I’ve got a couple of cousins through the family that we’re connected,” Aunty Fay said.
Ashmont Public student Georgia Hampton said prior to meeting with Aunty Fay she had learned little about the Wiradjuri history.
“She is an inspiration because we got to learn more about the Stolen Generation and it was wonderful to learn about the story about it,” said Georgia Hampton.
Aiming to recognise the efforts and resilience of Indigenous women in the community, the Petaurus Education Group approached the school with this project in April.
Executive officer from PEG Owen Dunlop said over the 50 books that have been produced over five years in the southern Riverina, this book has been one of the most “meaningful books” that he has been involved in.
School principal Diana McGregor, said this has been an authentic learning experience for the students and connecting back to the community.
“It has created an opportunity for students to be involved with the local Aboriginal community both inside and outside of the school environment and participate in a learning program that directly links to Aboriginal heritage, particularly the Stolen Generation,” Mrs McGregor said.
The Department of Education have given a small grant to turn the book into a short video so that it can be shared nationally across all schools.