Part of Australia’s history that is still being uncovered is the incidence and effect of nuclear testing by the United Kingdom government (with the support of the Australian government) in remote parts of Australia in the 1950s and 1960s. No-one knows how many Australians died as a result of the tests, held at Maralinga, Emu Field, Monte Bello Islands and Christmas Island.
Maralinga Prohibited Area sign on Emu-Nawa Road, 1974 (NAA A6457, 7818706)
Dr Judith Crispin, Canberra researcher and scholar, is working on compiling a comprehensive list and she has set up a blog Deaths from UK Nuclear Testing in Australia, 1952-73, to help do this. She asks those who have lists of names of people affected by the tests to use the blog to provide this information or to contact her via Facebook or email.
This information will help Yankunytjatjara man, Yami Lester, and others who are fighting to obtain compensation from the UK government. So far, Dr Crispin has obtained the names of children buried at the Woomera cemetery. These (non-Indigenous) children died during 1960, after tests had been going on at Maralinga, to the west of Woomera, for five years:
died 3 January 1960, aged 21 months
died 3 January 1960, aged 4 months
died 9 January 1960, aged 2 months
died 30 January 1960, aged 4 months
died 25 May 1960, stillborn
died 21 June 1960, stillborn
Phillip John van Senden,
died 28 September 1960, aged 4 days
Alexander John Murphy,
died 24 December 1960, aged 8 hours
Dr Crispin says:
If someone in your family died as a result of these tests, either from fallout between 1952 and 1973, or much later from cancers or other illnesses, please let me know and I will add their name to the list. The point of this list is to try to hold the UK to account for what was essentially an undeclared nuclear war against Australia’s indigenous population. Large sections of the non-indigenous community were also killed during these tests, as this list already attests, as were military personnel from Australia and New Zealand.
17 December 2015