Maralinga survivor speaks at anti-nuclear UN conference in New York City

Two West Coast women recently travelled to New York City for a United Nations conference aimed at banning nuclear weapons.

Sue Coleman-Haseldine

Sue Coleman-Haseldine

Sue Coleman-Haseldine and Susan Thiselton made the trip to the United States where Ms Coleman-Haseldine spoke before more than 120 governments gathered to negotiate a treaty to prohibit and eliminate nuclear weapons.

She said the conference was interesting and full of positive plans.

“It was satisfying to know people are learning about what happened in Australia,” Ms Coleman-Haseldine said.

“It was essential to go there and speak about past experiences to make sure it doesn’t happen in the future.”

Ms Coleman-Haseldine was two years old when the first nuclear tests occurred at Maralinga in 1956.

“To see people in the area being inflicted with cancer makes it very close to me, it’s really painful to see,” she said.

“To try to stop that, not just from an Aboriginal point of view but for everybody, is important.

UN CONFERENCE: Sue Coleman-Haseldine and Susan Thiselton with a Japanese Delegate. Picture: Supplied

UN CONFERENCE: Sue Coleman-Haseldine and Susan Thiselton with a Japanese Delegate. Picture: Supplied

“My speech was well-received, people who watched a video of it said there was a lot of applause and it was good to have my voice heard.

“Things have to change, the radiation has to stop.”

Her speech touched on the after-effects of the Maralinga tests, which continue to be felt, and why the federal government – not present at the start of the conference – should use those experiences to ban any nuclear-related activities in the future.

She said the next step was another UN conference later in the year where the organisation would “try to push states to get rid of nuclear weapons”.