UnitingJustice resource for the International Day of Peace 2016
“Knowing about the consequences of nuclear radiation, Adnyamathanha people in South Australia are vigorously opposed to a nuclear waste dump on their land. Their work to seek justice for their people is the third building block of peace.
Australia is no stranger to the nuclear risk. Between 1952 and 1963 the United Kingdom tested its nuclear weapons on Australian soil in South Australia and Western Australia. Indigenous people living nearby the test sites in Maralinga and other places were affected by permanent blindness, cancer or radiation sickness. Some traditional lands continue to be uninhabitable due to contamination from the testing.
“Now, the Federal Government is seeking to building a nuclear waste facility in South Australia to bury and store radioactive waste, mostly that produced by the Lucas Heights reactor in Sydney. The likely site shares a border with the Yappala Indigenous Protected Area, country which has been managed and inhabited by Adnyamathanha people for generations. Denise Champion talks about the reasons she opposes the nuclear waste dump facility.
ICAN Australia is at the forefront of global efforts to outlaw and eliminate nuclear weapons. With more than 60 diverse partner organisations nationwide, we aim to raise public awareness about the catastrophic humanitarian harm caused by nuclear weapons and put nuclear disarmament squarely on the Australian political agenda.
Uniting Church in Western Australia, Social Justice Board is one of the partner organisations of ICAN Australia, as is the Uniting Church in Australia Assembly.
Read about the impact of nuclear weapons in Australia here. An extract says:
For many Australians, nuclear weapons are not a distant, abstract threat, but a lived reality – a persistent source of pain and suffering, of contamination and dislocation. Indigenous communities, long marginalised and mistreated in Australia, bear the brunt of this ongoing scourge.
From 1952 to 1963, the British government, with the active participation of the Australian government, conducted 12 major nuclear test explosions and up to 600 so-called “minor trials” in the South Australian outback and off the West Australian coast. Radioactive contamination from the tests was detected across much of the continent. At the time and for decades after, the authorities denied, ignored and covered up the health dangers.
Little was done to protect the 16,000 or so test site workers, and even less to protect nearby Indigenous communities. Today, survivors suffer from higher rates of cancer than the general population due to their exposure to radiation. Only a few have ever been compensated. Much of the traditional land used for the blasts remains off limits.
Read UnitingJustice’s Submission to thge 2009 Inquiry into Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament here:
“In 2003 the National Assembly of the Church adopted a statement entitled Uniting for Peace. It states the Church’s belief that reliance on weapons for peace and security can never achieve a just and lasting peace. Security achieved through armament is sustained by fear of the enemy and can never see the world reconciled;
and that genuine global security will only be achieved by working for an end to the trade in illegal weapons and the arms trade, preventing the proliferation of nuclear
or other weapons of mass destruction, and requiring progressive disarmament of all nations.
“This most recent resolution continues the Uniting Church’s long commitment to work for a world free from nuclear weapons. It af! rms past commitments to work for ‘general and complete disarmament’, the abolition of all nuclear weapons, support an end to the production of weapons-grade fissionable materials, and previous calls on the Australian Government to support
a comprehensive ban on nuclear testing and end our involvement in the nuclear fuel cycle”.