News

Ruff gets AO

By Simon Ruppert

Benalla’s own Dr Tilman Ruff, founder of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), has received one of Australia’s highest honours.

Named on the Queen’s Birthday honours list, Dr Ruff has now been awarded an AO, the prestigious Order of Australia, which is limited to only 35 recipients per year.

Dr Ruff, who was already an AM, received the honour for distinguished service to the global community as an advocate for nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament, and to medicine.

The list of his achievements is long and varied:

●ICAN/International Physicians for Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) delegate, Nobel Peace Prize for 2017 Award Ceremony and speaker at official Norwegian Nobel Institute Press Conference, Oslo 2017.

●Honorary Life Member, Australian Society for Infectious Diseases, 2018.

●Deakin Orator, Parliament of Victoria, 2018.

●Distinguished Alumni Award, Monash University Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, 2018.

●Rubbo Orator, Australian Society for Microbiology, 2019.

●Angus Mitchell Orator, Rotary Club of Melbourne, 2019.

●Honorary Member, Rotary Club of Melbourne, 2018-20.

●Hep Hero, Hepatitis Victoria, 2017.

●Keynote speaker, Leadership Development, Australian Medical Association National Conference, 2018.

●Sir John Monash Lecturer, Monash University, Malaysia, 2019.

Dr Ruff is perhaps best known for the work he did in setting up ICAN and his ongoing commitment to addressing the world’s issues with nuclear weapons.

ICAN is still the only organisation, set up in Australian, to receive the Nobel Peace prize.

Through Dr Ruff’s advocacy the Rural City of Benalla recently became the first regional council in Australia to support the United Nations Treaty, which seeks to ban the production, storage, testing and use of all nuclear weapons.

Dr Ruff, who lives part-time on a property in Lima East, described the moment he found out about the honour as wonderful.

‘‘It’s amazing to be recognised,’’ Dr Ruff said.

‘‘It honours the work that many people have contributed in establishing ICAN.

‘‘Particularly given that Australia has not yet signed the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW).

‘‘I was pleased to be recognised with another ICAN co-founder, Dimity Hawkins, who was also honoured with an AM.’’

Being recognised for his work with ICAN keeps the spotlight on the Australian Federal Government, which did not follow 122 other countries in negotiating the TPNW.

Dr Ruff said he was disappointed that Australia did not take part, and hoped the government would take on board the fact that cities across the country, including Benalla, now supported addressing the issue.

‘‘There was a group of us in Melbourne that established ICAN,’’ Dr Ruff said.

‘‘It was inspired by the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, quite a historic coalition,’’ Dr Ruff said.

‘‘We decided to set up an organisation to try and collaborate with existing organisations to work to ban and eliminate unacceptable weapons.

‘‘These are indiscriminate and inhumane weapons, no matter how they are used.

‘‘So it’s presented as a humanitarian issue that should be above party politics.

‘‘With Australia having signed many treaties that speak out against other weapons, and having been a leader on the chemical weapons front, it makes the argument for banning far more devastating weapons much stronger.

‘‘The TPNW will enter into force when 50 states agree to ratify it and currently we are up to 70 signatures and 23 ratifications.

‘‘So hopefully it will be in force by next year.

‘‘We’re hoping that even with opposition from nuclear armed states it should attract good numbers quickly.

‘‘One of the initiatives that ICAN is undertaking to promote public awareness and build support for Australia joining it, is this campaign to get regional councils to ask the Federal Governments to make the commitment to ban nuclear weapons.

‘‘And Benalla is not the first regional city to sign up to that.’’

Dr Ruff brought the Nobel Peace prize back to town on Saturday when he spoke at the Seventh Annual Swanpool Environmental Film Festival.