We all deserve the right to access natural places that are clean and thriving. To enjoy safe air and water, and protection against extreme weather events and dangerous toxins. To connect with places significant to us. 

We also deserve the right to stand up to protect our places and communities when under threat – and not be persecuted for doing so.

Today, on International Human Rights Day, we’re asking you to help protect people and planet by saying no to a dangerous plan to locate nuclear waste on Barngarla Country near the town of Kimba in regional South Australia.

For years now, this small town has been a proposed site for a national radioactive waste dump and storage facility, despite opposition from Traditional Owners and the plan being illegal under South Australian state law.

According to the federal nuclear regulator, the waste in question can be securely stored where it is made at the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation for “decades to come”.

The Kimba plan is a political choice – not a radiological requirement. We have the time we need to adopt an approach that doesn’t impose intergenerational waste where it’s not wanted.

Radioactive waste lasts thousands of years and is a risk to the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the soil we grow our food in. There is no need to double handle the waste and risk the Kimba, the Eyre Peninsula or any other community.

Sign our open letter to Resources Minister Madeleine King: scrap the plan, keep our communities safe!

Barngarla Traditional Owners unanimously oppose the Kimba site and have been excluded from a community ballot and the government’s limited consultation process. Watch the Barngarla people’s Human Rights Day video and support their campaign by following them on Facebook.

First Nations Peoples have managed and cared for Country for tens of thousands of years. Their authority to speak for Country and right to self-determination are fundamental to protecting and restoring nature in Australia.

The Barngarla people are challenging the radioactive waste plan in the Federal Court, but they are being heavily outspent by the federal government. There has been a systemic silencing of First Nations voices on this issue and the federal government can and must do much better.


We continue to see human rights of people protecting nature under threat – with some deeply disturbing examples in the last week alone. 

The home of Raelene Cooper – a strong voice for the protection of rock art and cultural sites on WA’s Burrup Peninsula – was raided under false pretenses while she was giving evidence as an expert witness in a trial of three climate activists.

And Deanna “Violet” Coco was sentenced to 15 months in prison for blocking a single lane of traffic on the Sydney Harbour Bridge in a peaceful protest intended to draw attention to the global climate crisis.

We need real action on climate. We know business as usual and nuclear aren’t solutions. Nor is prison.

We must protect the right to peaceful protest.

People in our movement face increasing threats and intimidation from police and state governments with new state laws in New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania restricting freedom of assembly.

No one should be unfairly targeted for taking concerns for nature and our communities to the streets – especially when our governments aren’t addressing the issues with the urgency we need. Throughout history people have fought for, won and protected their rights through direct action. This is a vital part of a healthy democracy and a healthy planet.

Public protest enables people to be seen and heard, especially when those in power would rather silence us. Greater – not fewer – protections are needed to strengthen our democracy and ensure the voices of all of the community are heard and respected by those in power.

The living world thrives when people are connected and care for the waterways, soil, sun and air. Our survival and prosperity is directly linked to the survival and prosperity of the planet.

Today on Human Rights Day – and every day – let's take a stand against harm to people and planet.

Dave Sweeney

Nuclear free campaigner, Australian Conservation Foundation.