Help ANFA travel to Canada!

From April 14-16, communities from all over the world are gathering in Québec City, Canada, for the World Uranium Symposium. The Symposium will address a broad range of issues related to the nuclear fuel chain, including uranium mining, radioactive waste, aboriginal rights and nuclear weapons proliferation.

The Australian Nuclear Free Alliance (ANFA) has been invited to contribute stories of nuclear resistance and the impact of the nuclear industry on Aboriginal communities in Australia. Formed in 1997, ANFA brings together Aboriginal people and relevant civil society groups concerned about existing or proposed nuclear developments in Australia, particularly on Aboriginal homelands.

Your support will enable three Co-Chairs of ANFA- Peter Watts, Glen Cooke and Barbara Shaw- to take up this rare opportunity to share the Australian nuclear story with an international audience. While in Québec City, the ANFA delegates will be able to meet with Mohawk and Cree First Nations peoples, who are leading an inspiring campaign against nuclear expansion on their territories.

Donations to support the trip to Canada can be made via the Conservation Council of WA: please email mia.pepper [at] or call 08 9420 7291. KEEP UPDATED ON THE TOUR HERE WWW.ANFA.ORG.AU/TOUR2015


ANFA Meeting Statement 2014

 Against a background of strong community protest to the continuing government and industry push for an expanded nuclear sector in Australia, the Australian Nuclear Free Alliance (ANFA) held its 17th annual gathering of Aboriginal, environmental and public health representatives who share common concerns over the adverse impacts of the nuclear industry and a common aspiration for a future free of nuclear threats.

The 2014 ANFA meeting was held on Arrernte country in Alice Springs with representatives from the following nations, communities and organisations: Arabunna, Arrernte, Koara, Kokatha Mula, Larrakia, Luritja, Ngaanyatjarra, Tjiwarl, TI Meriam, Warlpiri, Waramungu, Warlmanpa, Wiradjuri, Wongutha, Yankunytjatjara. Anti-Nuclear Alliance of WA, Arid Lands Environment Centre, Australian Conservation Foundation, Beyond Nuclear Initiative, Conservation Council WA, Environment Centre NT, Freedom Flotilla, Friends of the Earth (Brisbane and Melbourne), Indonesian Greens, International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, Keep Queensland Nuclear Free, Medical Association for the Prevention of War, Nuclear Operations Watch Port Adelaide, Public Health Association Australia (NT Branch), Uranium Free NSW, West Papua.

Radioactive Waste

The ANFA meeting celebrated and acknowledged the seven-year campaign against a planned radioactive waste dump at Muckaty – an important human and environmental rights victory. Many people from Tennant Creek expressed thanks to ANFA for the strong support and solidarity over the years. Community representatives shared concerns and experiences about the divisive impacts of the federal government’s approach to waste management. Continuing to pursue only remote dumping options further exploits disadvantaged communities. The meeting endorsed a national statement calling for an independent National Commission into responsible radioactive waste management based on science and evidence instead of a continuation of the flawed and failed process of targeting remote communities.

Uranium mining

Australian uranium fuelled the Fukushima disaster but there is ongoing pressure for new uranium mines in Western Australia, the Northern Territory, South Australia, Queensland and exploration threats in New South Wales. ANFA condemned the federal and state governments as out of step with the broad opposition to uranium mining across many communities and organisations. The meeting discussed specific action plans to target uranium mining projects across Australia. Mine Rehabilitation The meeting heard of the failures of rehabilitation of uranium mines and called for the national adoption and enforcement of the standard applied at the Ranger mine in Kakadu that requires radioactive mine tailings to be isolated from the environment for no less than ten thousand years.

Women’s Health

The meeting heard personal stories and long history of disease and impacts from the nuclear industry, including intergenerational sickness and mental health issues. Base-line studies from the past were not done but should be demanded for any proposed new projects for animals, plants, bush foods and people. There is a need to do healing: the pain and hurt caused by nuclear impacts will always be there but we should support each other through healing and engage our community medical services in collecting data and tracking impacts.

Men’s Health

The meeting heard about scientific studies that have demonstrated increases in cancer incidence among Australians exposed to radiation and we are seeing this in our communities. The consensus scientific view is that even the lowest doses of radiation can cause cancer and children and women are at greater risk. The impacts from radiation exposure are seen in our families’ health. In Australia uranium deposits have been known as poison or sickness country by Aboriginal people with strong cultural knowledge about the dangers – this traditional knowledge is still being ignored.


The meeting heard that around 40,000 rounds of depleted uranium weapons have been deployed in Australian military training exercises. This raises serious concerns about where they were used and any subsequent health impacts from these weapons. We recognise the intergenerational health impacts from nuclear weapons testing as well as the documented use and impacts of depleted uranium weapons. The meeting called for all uranium weapons and nuclear weapons to be banned.

Rare Earths

The mining and refining of Rare Earth Elements (REE’s) was discussed. There is a need for roundtable discussion of stakeholders in the nuclear free, climate and renewable energy sectors to discuss the role of REE’s in renewable energy technologies such as wind and solar given that mining these elements involves the generation of radioactive uranium and thorium waste.

Land Councils

There was strong concern about the function of Aboriginal Land Councils in different states and territories. The meeting called for greater openess to ensure such bodies represent the wishes of Aboriginal people in their region. There were deep concerns expressed that full consultation does not always happen and ANFA representatives will be seeking to address these issues within their particular Land Councils.

ANFA Network

ANFA representatives in each states and territory committed to building the ANFA network and sourcing funds to produce and distribute resources needed for grassroots community education on nuclear issues. In the shadow of Fukushima there can be no nuclear business as usual and meeting representatives reaffirmed their commitment to actively advance a nuclear free Australia through involvement in ANFA, their communities and organisations.

Photo’s thanks to Crystal McCabe – click here to view full gallery.


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Abbott’s Indigenous Council: Undermining Aboriginal interests?

As the dust starts to settle and Australia reflects on the outcomes of the recent federal election many Aboriginal people have growing concerns over Tony Abbotts new Indigenous Advisory Council and the agenda behind its plans for ‘real action for Indigenous Australians’.

The Council appears to be on the road from idea to institution, with scant consultation or consent from Aboriginal and Islander people. In the style that has marked so much of successive governments approaches to our issues the proposed Council is top down and unrepresentative with Tony Abbott and Nigel Scullion being joined at the table by Warren Mundine, Noel Pearson and Marcia Langton.

There may be more Aboriginal ‘leaders’ involved, but who knows – and that is the whole point. Unlike ATSIC or the newly re-elected National Congress – with all their limitations and flaws – the Indigenous Advisory Council is hand-picked by the politicians, not promoted by our people.

This is not to say that these three individuals do not have things to offer and positive contributions to make. But they do not have a mandate to represent all our views and they hold views about Aboriginal ‘development’ that are far removed from the lived experience and deeply held aspirations of many Aboriginal people. Particularly in relation to the role of the State and of the resource sector in the Coalitions new ‘open for business’ Australia.

In 2012 Marcia Langton outlined her views through the Boyer lecture series titled ‘The Quiet Revolution: Indigenous People and the Resources Boom’.  Her view that mining is helping to pull Aboriginal people out of poverty was widely promoted through the ABC and Fairfax media. What was less advanced was her connection to the resource sector through the Rio Tinto group and her involvement with the Australian Uranium Associations ‘Indigenous Dialogue Group’.

Warren Mundine is not only the co-convenor of the Uranium Association’s Indigenous Dialogue Group but is also a Director of the Australian Uranium Association. His views on the nuclear industry are in conflict with those of many in Aboriginal Australia living with the legacy of nuclear testing or actively resisting uranium mining and radioactive waste dumping on their country.

We all want to make things better for our people but there is a real danger in talking about the interests of mining and the need for change in Aboriginal Australia as though they are the same thing. They are not. It doesn’t have to be one or the other. We three and many people – do not believe that mining is in the best interest for our families, the long term health of our country or will stop the suicides, alcohol abuse, violence, or raise the level of education and access to health services.

If mining meant these things then the Aboriginal communities of the Pilbara would have a very different set of social indicators than the current ones.

Mining is not a panacea for addressing the social, cultural and economic disadvantage of Aboriginal people. The resource sector does have a role and a responsibility to address issues and improve outcomes in areas where it operates but governments must be held to account to meet their responsibility to provide the roads, schools, housing, health services and other infrastructure that people in cities and towns take for granted.

Basic citizenship entitlements – hard won by our predecessors following the historic 1967 referendum – should never be tied to or traded around proximity and access to a mineral deposit.

Mining is neither a new development nor a new answer to old problems. Mining has been around for hundreds of years. Look at Aboriginal life in Australia’s mining regions around Roeborne, Port Hedland and Port Augusta. Spend a couple of days out at Laverton, go talk to the folks at the missions in Kalgoorlie and tell us mining is pulling Aboriginal people out of poverty or reducing the rates of kidney disease and cancers. Look at the youth suicide rates, our people’s lack of representation in Parliaments and over representation in prisons. It’s not as simple as saying mining will pull us out of poverty, stop the welfare dependence and ‘save us’. It hasn’t done it in the last 200 years of occupation and excavation.

Even in 2013 community development is at the front end of mining, particularly during approvals and heritage clearance. But as soon as the commodity price drops or costs increase it is the community development budget that is cut. After the first round of flash cars and payments once the digging begins life too often becomes reduced to footy carnivals, training programs, a couple of cleaning jobs – and high profile pictures in the company’s annual report.

The establishment of the Indigenous Advisory Council, two thirds of who are directly aligned with the controversial uranium industry does not bode well for advancing a mature conversation around and action on the problems of Aboriginal inequality and disadvantage. At the very least the NIC should include community representatives with diverse backgrounds and views.

You can’t have your yellowcake and eat it too: the members of the Indigenous Advisory Council should declare their interests and stand down from their involvement with either the Council or the Australian Uranium Association.