• Rose Lester is in Sydney to fight against nuclear weapons that affected her family. (Amanda Copp)
First Nations people affected by nuclear testing in the 1950s are disappointed the Australian government continues to avoid taking positive steps towards a ban on nuclear weapons.
By
Amanda Copp

Source:
NITV News
16 Jun 2017 - 5:18 PM  UPDATED 16 Jun 2017 - 6:45 PM

At the behest of the United States, Australia is boycotting historic negotiations to ban nuclear weapons in New York.

Indigenous people say the government is ignoring Australia’s dark history with nuclear testing.

In the 50s and 60s, Australia’s deserts were used for nuclear tests that resulted in harm to civilians, including Indigenous Australians.

"The First Nations are very disappointed that Australia has got an amnesia again about their nuclear history in Australia.” 

Rose Lester, an anti-nuclear campaigner, suffers from an autoimmune disease that she says was caused by nuclear tests conducted South Australia where she grew up. Her father, Yami Lester, went blind as a result of atomic fallout from those tests. Her sister, Karina Lester, is speaking at the UN negotiations in New York.

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Ms Rose Lester told NITV the government is blind to the suffering of people in their own backyard.

"The First Nations are very disappointed that Australia has got an amnesia again about their nuclear history in Australia,” she said.

“We kind of feel abandoned again because there’s no recognition and we don't seem to be moving forward with positive changes. We should be able to learn from the mistakes of the past."

The Yankunutjatjara and Anangu woman travelled to Sydney from her home in South Australia, to speak at the ‘Ban the Bomb’ protest being held in Sydney on Saturday.

In a more positive step, the Senate passed a bill this week granting full medical treatment and support for Australians affected by the British nuclear tests in South Australia in the mid-1900s.

Senator Scott Ludlam said this will also cover Aboriginal people who were exposed.

“Around Maralinga and the other test sites the detonations led to widespread dispersion of radioactive material into the local environment. The Anangu Aboriginal people, who lived in the area, called it puyu or black mist,” he said in a statement on his website.

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