Walk for Wittenoom Children - Day 3 

by Laurie Kazan-Allen



You truly begin to fathom the huge undertaking of the Asbestos Diseases Society of Australia's (ADSA) charity walk for Wittenoom Children when a day spent walking 180 km is classed as “easy.” The walkers, who have now covered hundreds of km on their trek through the goldfields and wheatbelt, remain in terrific spirits albeit with the occasional blister according to today's interviews with the ADSA's Robert and Rose Marie Vojakovic. Seventy-two year old Robert, President of the ADSA, has been walking the walk with his knee strapped up; he would not be deterred from taking his place on the tarmac side-by-side with the volunteers. He was particularly excited about the reception from the children at a school in Kellerberrin this morning. Of course, many of them had been driven along the road to Perth and could not believe anyone could walk that distance. They asked questions about the purpose of the journey and whether any snakes had been seen. The children and staff at the school waved the ADSA volunteers off on today's leg of the journey.


During the 3rd day of the walk (May 3) stops were also made at schools in Tammin, Cunderdin and Meckering to speak to the children about asbestos. “It is important,” Robert told IBAS “to get the message across to young people so they know that asbestos is a killer.” Rose Marie added: “Country towns like these are full of fibro [asbestos-cement] houses. One day these children will be renovating these houses; they need to know what asbestos looks like so they can take precautions.” Today's news that that the top Australian court had found asbestos directors guilty of deception was welcomed by Robert who said it was a vindication of the rights of asbestos victims. “James Hardie,” he said “was responsible for thousands of people dying and the directors were criminals.” This ruling cannot be appealed to a higher jurisdiction; the directors have reached the end of the line and have been condemned for their actions.1

Back in the Perth offices of the ADSA, today is just another day. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, Dr. Greg Deleuil, the Society's Medical Advisor, sees patients in the ADSA surgery. His schedule today, according to ADSA's Antonella Conte, was “chocker.” The medical and administrative support for the Society's members has to carry on even as the walk continues. The dedicated ADSA backroom staff remain at their desks in Osborne Park, Perth.

The end of stage 3 of the journey was Northam where the walkers were greeted by Neville Hale, Chief Executive of Northam Council, and Denis Berisford, representing Northam's Mayor, who offered the weary travellers the hospitality of afternoon tea overlooking the River Avon.


Tonight the walkers will bed down at Northam Race Course where, I have no doubt, they will sleep the sleep of the righteous!

May 3, 2012


1 James Hardie directors breached duties: Court. May 3, 2012.



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