AFTER a history of disappointments from the federal government, Len and Pam O'Connell are loathe to be optimistic.
From their third-generation Salt Ash farm, severely contaminated by firefighting foam chemicals from Williamtown RAAF Base, the O'Connells wait patiently.
An injection of hope that the Morrison government settled the Williamtown class-action lawsuit this week sparked cautious enthusiasm at the Nelson Bay Rd farm on Thursday.
But the contamination saga's long difficult history of broken promises and false dawns has destroyed the O'Connells' trust.
The family has farmed the 230-acre property for more than 140 years, and while many red zone residents joined the class-action lawsuit as the best way to seek compensation, the O'Connells lodged an individual claim with the Department of Defence about six months ago.
"We're really happy for the people who were in the class action, it's great news for them," Mrs O'Connell said.
"It didn't suit us, so we went our own way along with a few others who decided to lodge their own claims and we're still waiting to hear back."
Tests have shown the O'Connells have staggering levels of toxic perfluorinated chemicals (PFAS) in their blood, even though they have never drunk contaminated water at their farm.
Mr O'Connell believes the fine dust that would shower him and his sons when they ploughed their fields - which have tested positive for the contamination - could be responsible.
"This is a farm and the soil and groundwater are both contaminated, we desperately want out of here," he said.
"Our blood levels are sky high, we don't want to be here anymore but we can't go and live in a tin shed. We just hope we can get an offer too."
In March last year, a retired military doctor, Eric Donaldson, who lives next to the Oakey Army Aviation Base, in Queensland, became the first person in Australia to reach a confidential settlement with the government for a claim over contamination from toxic firefighting foam chemicals.
Like the O'Connells, Dr Donaldson didn't join a class action, choosing instead to settle the matter outside the courts in a confidential agreement.
Mr O'Connell said he spoke at length with lawyers running the Williamtown class action, but it "just didn't suit our situation".
"They were talking about 15 per cent of property value, because they were going for devaluation and not a total buyout," he said. "That just didn't work for us because this is a farm and it's useless because of the contamination. We don't know if we did the right thing, but we decided to take the chance."
The family said news that other red zone residents had finally scored a victory in the long-running scandal was the "first good sign we've seen in five years".
"Everyone is doing what they need to do and that's what we have done," said Mrs O'Connell.
"It's been a terribly long road with a lot of disappointment, we've very happy for the people in the class action that they finally had a win.
"We know other people are still waiting like we are and really we hope we hear something soon."