Backchat: The mysterious disappearance of Juanita Nielsen

July 20th 2016

Juanita Nielsen

“It was only a small paper that she was running but she definitely was making herself count. She carried a lot of clout in her campaigning.”

Juanita Nielsen was a journalist and community activist who lived and worked in Victoria St, Kings Cross in the 1970s.

On July 4 1975, Juanita went missing.

Backchat‘s Heidi Pett took a close look at the circumstances surrounding her death, interviewing New Matilda journalist Wendy Bacon and author of Killing Juanita, Peter Rees.


Nielsen was centrally involved in the green ban movement, a coming together of conservationists and environmentalists which lobbied building and construction unions not to work on certain developments.

The activists came into conflict with developers who had links to organised crime in Sydney, and Nielsen wrote about it in a local newspaper she edited called NOW.

Nielsen’s last known whereabouts was the Club Carousel, owned by notorious Sydney crime boss Abe Saffron. Her body has never been found, although there have been numerous public inquiries into her disappearance – some of which pointed towards police corruption.

Closer to the present day, Sydney hip-hop artist Urthboy has paid tribute to Nielsen with the track ‘Hey Juanita’ on his 2016 album The Past Beats Inside Me Like a Second Heartbeat.

Have a listen below.


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Photo: Nigel McNeil.


Oscar is Backchat‘s digital producer.

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