A new, United Nations nuclear treaty signed by more than 80 countries around the world has been welcomed by descendants of Aboriginal people who were affected by nuclear testing in Australia.
It’s the first multilateral nuclear disarmament treaty to enter into force in 50 years and binds signatories not to develop, test, produce, acquire or threaten to use nuclear weapons.
However, Australia is among a handful of nations that have refused to sign the treaty, saying it will be “ineffective.”
The Australian government did not sign the treaty on the grounds that it failed to recognise the realities of the current international security environment.
Karina Lester is a Yankunytjatjara Anangu woman from the APY lands in South Australia and says today marks an “emotional and historic today”.
Ms Lester says she’s “very disappointed” in the Australian government’s decision to not join the treaty.
Ms Lester’s late father, Yami Lester, was a survivor of nuclear testing in Australia and was well known as an anti-nuclear advocate.
Mr Lester was a young boy living in the APY lands when he, along with thousands of other Aboriginal people, were exposed to nuclear fallout from British nuclear tests and Maralinga and Emu Junction.
Ms Lester says he was instrumental in helping to establish the 1985 McClelland Royal Commission, which found significant radiation hazards still existed at the Maralinga test sites.
“Today is a very emotional day for many of us who are second-generation survivors,” said Ms Lester.
“All our messaging and all our stories have really played a crucial role in getting to where we are today.”