A Dissociated State: The Exclusion of Aboriginal People by South Australian Authorities

An Australian government document described the exclusion of Aboriginal Australians and Nuclear Test Participants from official health considerations are follows:
“Two population groups are excluded from the (Exposure Dose) calculations. They are the Aboriginals living away from population centres and the personnel involved directly in nuclear test activities. Otherwise, the total population is represented in the estimated radiation doses.” [1]
In other words, those most affected were excluded.

The Howard government originally promised to include Aboriginal people and
Pastoralists in the nuclear test health study announced in 1999. The responsible minister,Bruce Scott, MP, stated: “I have announced the compilation of a nominal roll of exservice personnel involved in the testing and also civilians, aborigines and pastoralists, for whom information is available. This nominal roll will be used to conduct mortality and cancer incidence studies of Australians involved in the UK nuclear tests. This will
enable the Government to determine if current compensation and assessment
arrangements are sufficient.” [2]

In March 2006 the then responsible minister, Mr Bruce Billson, MP, emailed me as
follows: “Indigenous Australians were excluded from the study because there is no available list of Indigenous Australians who were present in the areas of the tests at the time. In the 1950s and 1960s the indigenous population was not counted in the census and there were no records kept of Indigenous Australians who lived in the test areas.” [3]

This exclusive act is abhorrent and disgusting. The authorities did not want to know in the 1950s. And today Ministers of the Crown justify an exclusion from study on the grounds of lack of knowledge. Rather, admitted ignorance is a call to study to any enlightened mind.
So again, the obvious signs of external contact with Beta emitters – residual Beta radiation burn damage – has been ignored, along with the incipient internal dose, as recently as 2006.
The beta burns carried by Australians date from 1952 to 1957. Every official instrument created to examine the impact of the atomic tests has failed to admit the evidence these beta burns present. For they represent both as proof of suffering and as technical biological markers of external dose received. The skin lesions can be read as a form of dose marker from which actual external dose can be determined. [4]

What did the Australian Government find and conclude about the state of health of those who were included in the health survey?

In regard to Australia’s Nuclear Veterans, the “Mortality and Cancer
Incidence Main Findings” document of the “Australian Participants in British
Nuclear Tests in Australia Study”, Department of Veterans Affairs, Commonwealth of Australia, June 2006, states the following:

“The cancer incidence study showed an overall increase in the number of
cancers in test participants, similar to that found in the mortality study. The
number of cancer cases found among participants was 2456, which was 23%
higher than expected. A significant increase in both the number of deaths and
the number of cases was found for (figures in brackets show increase in
mortality and incidence):
• all cancers (18% and 23%)
• cancers of the lip, oral cavity and pharynx (50% and 41%)
• lung cancer (20% and 28%)
• colorectal cancer (24% and 16%)
prostate • cancer (26% and 22%).
The number of cancer cases (but not the number of deaths) was also
significantly greater in test participants for the following cancers (figures in
brackets show increase in incidence):
• oesophageal cancer (48%)
• melanoma (40%)
• all leukaemias (43%)
all leukaemia’s except chronic lymphatic leukaemia (61%).
Other findings included:
• of the 26 mesothelioma cases in test participants, 16 occurred in RAN
personnel, which was nearly three times the number expected
in RAAF personnel, there was nearly double the expected number of deaths
from melanoma, and cases of melanoma were increased by two–thirds.
The increases in cancer rates do not appear to have been caused by
exposure to radiation.”

Most people can see a self serving statement when they see one.

Suspected Beta Radiation Burns in the Australian Outback
In 1953 the late Kukkika was a young girl, living in South Australia’s northern
areas. October of that year saw the first British bomb test series in South Australia take place at Emu Field, a large clay-pan in the northern part of the state.

Over a period of many years working in the northern parts of Southern Australia, Sister Michele Madigan came to know Kukkika.
Kukkika told Michele that one night during the time of the bombs, she had gone to sleep on the ground. The next day she woke up unwell; her skin was scarred white and painful.
Kukkika with sound reason believed that the ground upon which she and her people had camped had been contaminated by fallout from atomic bomb tests.

The photographs taken by Michele show severe de-pigmentation of Kukkika’s skin.
Kukkika suffered this disfigurement for over fifty years with no aid or acknowledgement from successive governments
I believe the suffering of Kukkika was caused by beta radiation burns. The photographs accord with those taken of people who suffered similar injuries in the Pacific as a result of US nuclear weapons tests. The US has acknowledged this. Kukkika was not the only Australian to suffer in this manner. Many people have, and do so still.

Lallie Lennon was an adult when the smoke from one of the Emu Field bombs engulfed her and her son Bruce. The tent in which her two daughters slept was also engulfed by the thick, heavy, twin coloured smoke.
Lallie and Bruce suffered sickness and painful skin. Lallie also suffered a loss of skin colour, the affected areas turning white.

The symptoms have lasted ever since. At the time her suffering first started, doctors refused to give a diagnosis.

Lallie was interviewed in the film “Backs to the Blast”, made in the 1981 by Harry Bardwell. In the film she is asked why her skin is scarred and white in the affected places. Lallie tells her story on film. [5]

Many other Australian Aboriginal people have suffered the same skin condition from the bomb smoke. People were blinded and some people died.

When I saw Harry Bardwell’s film, and saw and heard Lallie speak, I could not
understand why no-one had told her condition is called Beta Radiation Burn.
That was a little while ago now. The government says Australian Aborigines got sick because they were scared of the bomb smoke that engulfed them. Maybe. But that is a stupid answer to the questions. While did Yami go blind? Why were Kukkika and Lallie burnt white? Fear cannot do that. It takes a Special Weapon.
Lallie has spoken long and strong about all this. Lallie has written a book entitled “Maralinga Dust”. [6]
Yami Lester has also told his story in his book. [7]
Jessie Lennon wrote a book. [8]
Some people in Australia remember these things. Many others who wanted nuclear activities to expand claim that South Australia’s Aboriginal People have been given too much consideration. I have more to say on the repeated exclusion of Aboriginal People from the consideration of governments and from full participation in the life of South Australia.

Repeated Exclusion
[1] Wise, K.N., Moroney, J.R., “Public Health Impact of Fallout from British Nuclear
Weapons Tests in Australia, 1952 – 1957, Australian Radiation Laboratory,
Commonwealth of Australia, ARL/TR 105, ISSN 0 157-1400, May 1992, (reprint) pp. 2.

[2] “Commonwealth of Australia Parliamentary Debates HOUSE OF

[3] The Hon Bruce Billson MP, Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Minister Assisting the
Minister for Defence, Federal Member for Dunkley, email to Mr Paul Langley, March

[4] IAEA publication “Diagnosis and Treatment of Local Radiation Injuries, Module
XIII”. This is available at :
http://www.pub.iaea.org/MTCD/publications/PDF/eprmedt/Day_3/Day_3-10.pps [5]

[5] Film Title: Backs to the blast [videorecording] : an Australian nuclear story /
production and direction, Harry Bardwell. Other Creators: Bardwell, Harry. Published:
Adelaide : Composite Films [for] Australian Film Commission, Creative Development
Branch, c1981. Physical Description: 1 videocassette (VHS) (50 min.) : sd., col. ; 1/2 in.
Subjects Uranium mines and mining. Uranium industry — South Australia. Radioactivewaste sites — South Australia. Nuclear weapons — South Australia — Testing. Summary:
A documentary history of the uranium and nuclear industry in South Australia from 1910 to 1980. Incorporates a mass of rare archival footage and contemporary interviews with workers, scientists and politicians, presenting an analysis of the effects of uranium and its
products. Provides a detailed examination of the uranium mine at Radium Hill, the uranium oxide refinery at Port Pirie and the British atomic weapons test site at Maralinga.
Credits: Photography, Gus Howard, Philip Bull ; film editor, Andrew Prowse ; narrator,
Martin Vaughan. Notes: Issued also as motion picture. Language: English. Dewey
Number 363.1/79/0994. Libraries Australia ID 5346898. ” National Library of Australia.

[6] Maralinga dust / Lallie Lennon
Lennon, Lallie Kantjuringa Local call number: B P957.37/W1 Principal Author: Lennon, Lallie Kantjuringa Title: Maralinga dust / Lallie Lennon Source: Women of the centre /edited by Adele Pring Apollo Bay, Vic.; Pascoe , 1990; p. 88-98; ill., map, port. Imprint:
1990 Annotation: Personal observation of effects of Maralinga testing on health of her family Collection: Print – Book Analytics Topical: Defence – Missile and weapons testing – Nuclear weapons Topical: Family Topical: Health – Gastrointestinal system Topical:
Health – Skin physiology and disease Place: Maralinga (Far West SA SH52-12) The
Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies Mura Library

[7] Lester, Yami & Institute for Aboriginal Development (Alice Springs, N.T.) 1993, Yami : the autobiography of Yami Lester, Institute for Aboriginal Development, Alice Springs
[8] Lennon, Jessie and Madigan, Michele I’m the one that know this country! (Revised ed). Aboriginal Studies Press, Canberra, 2011.