Who we are
We are leading the movement for Australia to end its disarmament doublespeak by signing and ratifying the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. We are proudly independent, non-partisan and funded by donations from our community of supporters.
While our organisation is made up of a voluntary board, ambassadors and a small staff team, the success of the campaign rests on a broad-based movement for change involving a diversity of people and groups. Everyone has something to contribute.
A Kokatha woman who lives in Ceduna in South Australia, Sue Coleman-Haseldine is a nuclear test survivor and outspoken advocate of Aboriginal culture and environmental protection. She was a child at Koonibba Mission when the British carried out nuclear testing at Emu Field and Maralinga in the 1950s and 60s. In 2014, she travelled overseas for the first time to tell 150 governments about the effects of nuclear testing on Aboriginal land, culture and people at the Vienna Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons.
Sue is a Co-President of the Australian Nuclear Free Alliance and was awarded the South Australian Premier’s award for excellence in Indigenous leadership in 2007 and the 2018 Jill Hudson Award for environmental protection.
Sue participated in a national speaking tour, ‘Black Mist White Rain’, highlighting the humanitarian impacts of nuclear testing, in April 2016. She delivered a statement during the UN nuclear weapons ban treaty negotiating conference at the United Nations in March 2017 and attended the Nobel Peace Prize award ceremony for ICAN in Oslo in December that year.
Karina Lester is a Yankunytjatjara-Anangu woman who grew up on the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands (APY Lands) in South Australia. Her father, the late Yankunytjatjara elder Yami Lester, was blinded by the ‘black mist’ fallout from the Totem 1 nuclear test at Emu Field in 1953.
The Lester family has been a stalwart of nuclear resistance for decades. Karina works with the University of Adelaide’s Mobile Language Team as the Aboriginal Co-Manager and Language Worker, co-hosting the Nganampa Wangka radio show on Radio Adelaide about South Australian Aboriginal languages.
Karina attended the 2015 World Nuclear Victims Forum in Hiroshima, Japan and spoke about the consequences of British nuclear testing on her family and Aboriginal people more broadly. Along with her sister, Kunmanara Lester, she travelled with the national Black Mist White Rain speaking tour in April 2016, highlighting the humanitarian impacts of nuclear testing in Australia and the Pacific.
Karina and Kunmanara spoke at the women’s marches to “ban the bomb” in New York and Sydney, respectively, in June 2017. Karina delivered an Indigenous statement to the negotiating conference for the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons on behalf of 35 First Nations organisations. The statement helped to enshrine the rights of victims and impacted environments in the final agreement, as well as recognising the disproportionate impacts of nuclear weapon activities on Indigenous people worldwide.
Scott Ludlam is a writer, activist and former Australian Senator representing the Australian Greens. He served in Parliament from 2008 – 2017, and as Co-Deputy Leader of his party from 2015 – 2017. Scott held the nuclear issues portfolio for nine years, during which time he contributed to campaigns on uranium mining, waste dumping and nuclear weapons. He is currently an occasional columnist for The Guardian and The Monthly, and his first book on ecology, technology and politics will be published in 2020.
He is a long-term supporter of ICAN, co-hosting the Western Australian launch in 2007 and travelling to New York in 2017 for the final session of the ban treaty negotiations. He delivered a statement to the negotiating conference on the day before the Treaty’s adoption.
Robert Tickner AO
Robert has been campaigning against nuclear weapons since he was in his early 20s, firstly as an activist in the environmental movement and then as a Federal Labor MP where he was the convenor of Labor Parliamentarians for a nuclear-free Australia.
Robert was Australia’s longest serving Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs, before spending a decade as the CEO of Australian Red Cross. During that time he spoke on behalf of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Federation at the three international humanitarian conferences in Norway, Mexico and Austria, which led to the negotiation of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.
Robert is a patron of the Tom Uren Memorial Fund and advocates tirelessly for Australia to sign and ratify the Treaty.
Melissa Parke is a former Federal Labor member for Fremantle, former Minister for International Development and former United Nations lawyer. She has degrees in business, law and public international (human rights) law. Melissa is a patron of the Tom Uren Memorial Fund, which supports the work of ICAN Australia. She is currently the Executive Director of ICAN International.
Vale Kunmanara Lester
Kunmanara Lester was an ICAN Ambassador, along with her sister Karina Lester, until her passing in June 2021. Kunmanara worked as a translator and interpreter, with a passion for preserving and sharing traditional language.
Jemila Rushton, Campaigner
Jemila has been working with ICAN Australia since 2019. With a background as an organiser, networker and community builder, Jemila has been working to address the interlinkages of militarism, extractivism, and colonialism for over a decade. Jemila Represented ICAN Australia at the First Meeting of States Parties to the TPNW in Vienna in June 2023.
Jemila holds a Bachelor of Arts in International Community Development from Victoria University, Naarm/Melbourne, and is based on the lands of the Peek Whurrong speaking people on the shores of Gunditjmara Southern Ocean sea country in Victoria.
Tim Wright, Treaty Coordinator
Tim Wright is ICAN’s Treaty Coordinator. He is a member of the ICAN international staff team, overseeing work to promote universal adherence to the 2017 Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. He has been involved in the campaign since it began in 2006. He has degrees in law and arts from the University of Melbourne.
Jesse Boylan, Media and Communications Adviser
Jesse Boylan joined ICAN Australia as their Media and Communications Adviser in 2023. Jesse works across photography, filmmaking, art, radio and journalism to engage with anti-nuclear, climate and mining issues in Australia and internationally.
Jesse is a member of the Atomic Photographers Guild, an international group dedicated to making visible all aspects of the nuclear age. Jesse was a key artist with Nuclear Futures, a project that linked artists with atomic survivor communities all around the world to bear witness to the legacies of the atomic age through creative arts. Jesse is a PhD candidate at RMIT University in the School of Art and teaches within the BA Photography program at RMIT. Jesse is based on Dja Dja Wurrung Country in Central Victoria.
Leila Mutapcic, Bookkeeper/Administration
War survivor. Passionate about eliminating the use of nuclear weapons and bringing peace and stability to the world. Leila has worked with ICAN Australia since 2019.
ICAN Australia wishes to acknowledge the contributions of our staff and special project workers since the campaign began, in alphabetical order: