Next month marks half a century since Australia voted via referendum to amend the constitution to include its first people in the census.
After the votes were counted, 22 per cent of the Bega population had voted against the change – more than twice the state average.
In the lead up to the vote, land at the Glebe had been sold by the Anglican church to what was at the time called the Aboriginal Welfare Board, for the construction of homes.
The development was not completely welcomed, and in the years prior families had been forcibly moved to Stony Creek in Angledale, where they were counted as livestock.
Seventy-five-year-old Elder and grandmother of 23, Wilma Mundy lived at the site before she and her family became just the second to move to the Glebe.
“We were by the river, then one day we all had our huts knocked down and Mumbulla Shire Council and the police told us we had to move to Wallaga Lake. We didn’t want to move, so we were all living out at Angledale because we weren’t allowed in town,” Ms Mundy said.
In a Canberra Times article from August 1964, journalist Robert Blanchard wrote of being “appalled and disgusted by the squalid” conditions up to 50 people were living in at the camp, which was also the town’s tip site.
“There is no running water, no toilets, no baths, no electricity,” he wrote.
As the referendum neared, The Canberra Times referred to the Glebe development as a “great social experiment”, while closer to home news reports discussed issues such as what “type of family” was “ready for assimilation with the white community”.
“When we moved into town people put up a sign calling it Coon Avenue,” Ms Mundy said.
“I remember the Church of England had a service one day and the reverend brought the sign into the church to show everyone. I think it was a bit embarrassing for everyone.”
Born at the Lake Tyers mission after her family had been forced to leave their homeland, Ms Mundy said the 1967 vote changed little.
“We always get treated differently because of our race,” she said.
“We need to talk to each other to make things better.”