Thursday, October 27, 2011

Australian Civil Defence Handbook: General Information.

Australian Civil Defence Handbook: General Information. Paperback booklet published by The Commonwealth Directorate of Civil Defence (Australian Government Publishing Service) 1972. 

“Civil Defence includes the organisation of Government and the community to meet the effects of attack on them by an enemy.”

This is the first sentence of the preface and for some reason the words “attack” and “enemy” jump out at me.  Enemy? Which enemy?  Someone didn’t like Australians that much that it was considered necessary to publish a booklet about them attacking us?  There was I back in 1972 without a care in the world and some government official was considering whether an "attack" by an “enemy” would take place.  I guess it’s their job and let’s face it, even in 1972 government officials needed to stay one step ahead of any possible threat.

“The danger of such an attack is remote…”

OK. Well that’s some great positive retrospective news.  I feel a little relieved to know that we weren’t under that much of a threat other than the steady invasion of Cane Toads and bad hair.  The book opens with some chapters on the whole beauracratic organisation of Civil Defence under the heading "Principles of Organisation and Operation".  Followed by "Detailed Aspects".  This includes chapters on map reading, message writing (…"help"), fire and some practical fire prevention measures (very handy here in Australia), nuclear weapons…  

“…but the preparations required to meet it, and in particular the worst case of nuclear attack, cannot be completed quickly.”

So what do we do back in 1972 when the nuclear bombs start falling?  Well apparently a building or a trench is good protection and clothing is also good… preferably wool, not cotton, as it doesn’t catch fire as easily (I guess this also means that thongs (flip flops) are out of the question) and of course lead is a great protector. There’s heaps of other great tips, like throwing yourself on the ground if your caught in the open as well as some handy hints on how to protect yourself from Gamma Radiation.

…and all of this in the year that Gough was elected to parliament, Australia pulled out of the Vietnam conflict and Belinda Green won the Miss World Competition.  I guess this book proves that we were prepared… well maybe not "we". 

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