Exactly six years ago, in March 1996, the fledgling EMR Alliance, then convened by Betty Venables, produced its first six page newsletter with a national circulation of just 40 subscribers. This was the formalisation of a long process of providing information to the public and the unremarkable genesis of a new national organisation.
On 21 August 1996, after the retirement of Mrs Venables, we were elected as joint administrators of the organisation, John Lincoln as Convenor and Lyn McLean as Secretary. Together, and somewhat naively, we began to steer the new organisation across the seas of growing public concern.
During our six-year involvement with the Alliance, the organisation has fulfilled a number of important roles. Primarily, it has been a source of independent information about the health implications of EMR. To this end we have produced a quarterly newsletter, fact sheets, information booklets and a website. We have addressed numerous public meetings and conferences. Moreover, we have responded to literally thousands of phone calls, emails and letters.
Secondly, the Alliance served as a consumer advocacy body. We have represented the public on two RF standards-setting committees, the ACIF committee developing a Code for the Deployment of Radiocommunications Infrastructure and two national EME Reference Groups, the first convened by the Department of Communications and the second by the Department of Health. We have represented the interests of the general public in the writing of numerous submissions to government authorities. We have also delivered presentations to two Senate Inquiries (Telecommunications Bills, 1997 and EMR Inquiry, 2000).
Amidst the hard work and the challenges, there have been some priceless gems of experience. Perhaps the most precious, was the opportunity for us to attend the 1996 WHO Conference on “Biological Effects of Non-Thermal Pulsed and Amplitude Modulated RF-Electromagnetic Fields and Related Health Risks” in Munich, Germany. This was not just an introduction to the issues that have fuelled the health debate, but to the characters and the allegiances behind the issues. It was also a beautiful experience of Bavarian warmth and hospitality.
The Alliance has provided us with the invaluable opportunity to establish links with people across the world who share our concerns about the health impacts of EMR. These people, most of whom we have never met, have become close colleagues and friends and we are honoured by the opportunity to work with them.
Now a new organisation is emerging from the chrysalis of the Alliance. The EMR Association will continue to be a source of independent information and a consumer advocate. It will, however, have the advantage of a formal structure, an expanded team, and the experience of years of involvement.
We thank you for your interest and support for the Alliance to date and we look forward to your continued support in the future and to all that we will accomplish together.
EMR News Mar 2002, Vol 1 No 1