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Forum meets on atomic test veterans' health concerns.

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DVA 116 Tuesday 31 July 2001

Forum Meets on Atomic Test Veterans’ Health Concerns

A new forum representing the interests of ex-service personnel and civilians involved in atomic tests in Australia in the 1950s and 60s has held its first meeting, to review the Liberal-National Government’s planned study into the health of atomic test participants.

The Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Minister Assisting the Minister for Defence, Bruce Scott, said the consultative forum, which met yesterday in Canberra, would play a vital role in guiding the conduct of the study, which will examine cancer rates and causes of death among participants in the British atomic test program.

"The forum includes representatives of atomic test participants and their families, the veteran community and Aboriginal people, as well as a range of Federal Government agencies, under the chairmanship of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs," Mr Scott said.

"The forum will be involved throughout the process, to see that participants’ interests are taken into account in the conduct of this study and to ensure that it delivers sound findings that will enable the Government to address the health concerns of those involved in the atomic tests."

The Minister said the forum members were briefed on the recently-completed nominal roll that will form the basis for the study.  They also reviewed the proposed process for the study, which will involve data-matching information on the nominal roll against national death and cancer registries, to compare mortality and cancer rates to those found in the wider community.

"The forum members are now considering nominations for the independent scientific committee that will oversee the conduct of the study.  I expect to be able to announce the appointment of that committee later next month," Mr Scott said.

"This is a major task and when complete will provide valuable information about the nature and extent of any health problems suffered by veterans of the atomic tests.

"This study would not be possible without the support of the participants and I would like to thank the members of the consultative forum for their involvement in guiding this project towards a successful outcome."

Media Contact:   Mark Croxford   02 6277 7820   or    0408 645 787


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