Friday, June 21, 2024

Peat Island ownership passed to Darkinjung Council

The NSW Government has confirmed an agreement to transfer ownership of Peat Island and a portion of the mainland foreshore at Mooney Mooney on NSW’s Hawkesbury River to the Darkinjung Local Aboriginal Land Council (DLALC). 

Minister for Planning and Minister for Homes, Anthony Roberts said the transfer marked an historic moment that recognises the cultural connection of the land to the local Aboriginal community. 

“The NSW Government is rightfully returning Peat Island to the original custodians of this land to ensure the rich heritage of this place is preserved and is able to be celebrated,” Mr Roberts said.  

“Moving forward, we will work with the DLALC to help realise its vision for Peat Island to be used in ways that will create economic and cultural opportunities for the local Aboriginal population and for all Australians.” 

Minister Roberts said the transfer of Peat Island fulfilled an important promise of the Government. 

“Back in January, the Government stated its intent to transfer Peat Island back to the local Aboriginal community, and I’m delighted that today this has been achieved,” he said. 

“This demonstrates the Government’s strong commitment to preserving the historic legacy both Indigenous and non-Indigenous heritage of places like Peat Island.” 

Situated off the coast of Mooney Mooney on the Hawkesbury River, Peat Island was established as an asylum for inebriates in 1911, before later becoming a psychiatric hospital for people with intellectual and mental disabilities. 

It was decommissioned in 2010, with the last patients moved to new facilities on the Central Coast. 

Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Ben Franklin said the transfer highlighted the Government’s ongoing commitment to acknowledging the importance of Country to Aboriginal communities and Aboriginal ownership. 

“This agreement paves the way for the local Aboriginal communities to prepare planning proposals for their land to become a rich embodiment of local Aboriginal culture, identity and heritage,” Mr Franklin said. 

Parliamentary Secretary for the Central Coast, Adam Crouch said with the transfer now complete, work can begin on bringing Peat Island back to life.  

“During the next 12 months, works to be completed include the demolition of derelict structures to address significant health and safety risks, along with clearing of vegetation and clean-up of debris on the island,” he said. 

DLALC Chief Executive Officer, Brendan Moyle said the transfer represented a moment of iconic significance for the local Darkinjung people. 

“Too often, tourists from around Australian and the world bypass Sydney to learn more about ancient Aboriginal dreaming stories and practices in places like the Northern Territory and elsewhere in Northern Australia,” Mr Moyle said. 

“This transfer will allow us to work with the NSW Government to create an internationally renowned place where the ancient cultures and creation stories can be celebrated right here on Sydney’s doorstep.” 

DLALC Chairperson Barry ‘BJ’ Duncan said the transfer was achieved following a long period of fruitful engagement with the Government. 

“DLALC is proud of this historic transfer. This will truly be one of the jewels in the crown of Land Rights in NSW, and will help all Australians to embrace our ancient cultures, lore and practices in a stunning space that also recognises the contemporary history of what we now call Australia,” Mr Duncan said. 

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