Today marks the 40th anniversary five Australian journalists died while reporting East Timor.

Family members and friends held a dawn service at the War memorial in Canberra, to honour the Balibo five.

Fern Doyle reports.


Forty years on, family members are still coming to terms with what happened as they struggle to get the Australian Government to recommence investigations.

Shirley Shackleton, Widow: “They should be making sure that they do not give impunity to murder.”

They simply want closure.

John Milkins, Son: “You can’t look to the future with a past that is shrouded in secrecy and tragedy.”

In 1975, the five Australian newsmen from Channels 7 and 9 were killed by invading Indonesian forces.

The Indonesians claimed the men were killed in crossfire.

But in 2007, an Australian coroner backed a finding by another Australian journalist, Roger East, that the so-called Balibo Five were killed in cold blood.

Last year, The Federal Government dropped its investigation with no attempts to interview Indonesian officials.

The brother of one of those killed says he’s heard from Canberra once.

Paulie Stewart, Brother: “And that was from an official at the embassy in Jakarta saying where do we send the bill for the coffin, which is bloody outrageous.”

The families may feel helpless but will never give up their fight for justice for their loved ones.

Fern Doyle, QUT News.