An ongoing investigation by the Socialist Equality Party
Testimony of Julie Kay
Julie Kay is a Warrawong resident whose teenage daughter Emma died of a rare brain tumour in 1994
My name is Julie Kay. I have lived in the Warrawong area all my life. Most of my family worked in the steelworks. Many of my family members have been affected by cancer and lung problems. My daughter Emma, who died of cancer in 1994, always thought that it was the environment.
Emma had a cerebral diffuse glioma -- it's a very rare type of brain tumour.
I began to become suspicious when many children in the area developed brain tumours and other types of cancer -- affecting children in the area of all ages. I thought it had to be the environment, as none of it was hereditary. Nobody in my family had ever had cancer like this.
We then got involved in organisations known as Camp Quality and CANTEEN. There we met some of the teenagers that came from the same area -- many from Berkeley. They had been to the same high school as my daughter.
Two of Emma's class-mates are now dead with cancer. One of them died six months after Emma, another died a month before her, and one of the other girls is still fighting her leukemia. Heaps of others have died.
There were a lot of children at the camp with cancer, and there were also many parents there who had already lost children. The areas with the affected children ranged from Dapto to Corrimal, and also out to Port Kembla, Berkeley, Unanderra and Warrawong. There were many children with brain tumours and they were also in the areas of between Dapto to Berkeley.
The doctor at the Royal Prince Alfred pointed out to me that the brain tumour my daughter had was a very rare type. She was the only child in Australia with this type of brain tumour of her age group. He also asked me about the areas which Emma's father and family worked, and I explained that they all worked in the steelworks and the industry -- both her grandfather and father worked at the steelworks. Emma spent all her schooling and most of her time at Berkeley.
We know it's the environment and we've got to try and fight the government. One of the mothers affected who is fairly close to me, has a 20 year old daughter who is still alive.
She's lost all of her friends to cancer. She's lost Emma and her friend, Danielle. She knew Melissa Cristiano, also Goce Ilioski and David.
My father-in-law, who also worked in the mines, died of lung cancer and a brain tumour. It was definitely industry-related.
Dr Westley-Wise is being told what to say. Some people say that if we don't like the area, then we should leave. But the reason we came here was economic. Many people just don't have the money to move -- even though they know the environment is causing all of the health problems. The industry doesn't want to clean up its act because it will cost them too much.
We receive newsletters every month from CANTEEN and Camp Quality. Every month there are many more new victims, and also many more who have passed away.
The treatment process which the leukemia victims have to go through is very expensive. The conditions in the hospital, where I worked, were very primitive. The few staff were run off their feet. It wasn't the fault of the health workers, it was just very limited.
A lot of the young children in the area are ill with all sorts of diseases. It's not like when we were young -- we weren't ill like that. It is now common to see little babies with severe bronchitis and problems like that.
We have to get to the bottom of what it is in the environment which is causing this.