Inspiring Purpose

Dr Helen Caldicott

Helen Mary Broinowski was born in Melbourne in 1938, the eldest of three children. At school, Helen found the work easy, but was unable to make friends with other pupils. When she was 11, she decided to become a doctor.

After graduating Helen married William Caldicott a fellow doctor and they had three children. In 1966, the family moved to the United States to work at the Harvard Medical Centre. Helen treated children with cystic fibrosis - an inherited disease of the lungs and digestive system.

Returning to Australia, Helen was influenced by Germaine Greer, the Australian feminist. She became frightened and angry over French nuclear tests on the Pacific Atoll of Mururoa, partly because a leaked report claimed that the French tests were affecting the Adelaide water supplies. She led a protest in Australia against the French tests. Under pressure from other governments the French moved their nuclear testing underground.

Helen returned to America to try to shut down the nuclear power plants there.
She headed an anti-nuclear awareness campaign in the US which attracted international interest. She was invited to go to Europe and speak in many European countries, England, Ireland, Scotland, and Japan about the medical effects of nuclear war. Thirty thousand doctors world-wide formed 'The Physicians for Social Responsibility'.

Slowly the world began to change until finally in 1990 the cold war ended. Dr Caldicott and others thought that the threat of nuclear war was now ended. However, more countries, (India, Pakistan and North Korea) now have nuclear weapons than in 1990. Global warming and the exhaustion of oil and gas reserves has led to countries like Finland, France, Iran and Japan turning again to the development of nuclear power.

Helen received dozens of awards- for integrity, peace-making and humanitarian work, as well as eighteen honorary university degrees.

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