On 15 October 1953, the first nuclear weapons testing on mainland Australia took place at Emu Field as part of Operation Totem. This was only one in a series of twelve major nuclear weapons tests and the hundreds of smaller-scale trials conducted in Australia from 1952 to 1963. Today, First Nations People continue to suffer long-term and inter-generational effects from these blasts, impacting their health, communities, and homelands.
The devastating legacy of nuclear weapons testing in Australia cannot be undone, it must never be forgotten and we, as Australians, must do everything in our power to right these wrongs. These actions include compensating affected communities, remediating contaminated lands, and recommitting to the fight in ensuring that these weapons are never used again.
The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), as the first and only treaty to comprehensively ban these bombs, recognises their disproportionate impact on Indigenous communities. The Treaty, which also provides for victims’ assistance and environmental remediation, is the clear path forward to addressing these weapons’ destructive force in Australia.
Australian Red Cross calls on the Australian Government to sign and ratify the TPNW. We endorse the “Black Mist and the Ban” Statement, released by the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons and co-drafted by Karina Lester, Yankunytjatjara Anangu woman and second generation survivor of the Emu Field nuclear tests, urging the Government to take swift action towards the complete elimination of nuclear weapons.