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On October 1st, Kitty O’Connor, Past President of Laverton Point Cook Club spoke to us on Walk with Us program and on 19th November Andrew Bennett, Professor of Ecology at Latrobe University will speak about his many projects and work in the field of wildlife research.

Walk With Us - Supporting End Polio Now

Our speaker on the October 1 was Kitty O’Connor who is coordinating the Walk With Us program during the month of October. Whilst President of the Laverton Point Cook Club, Kitty began fundraising for polio with a walk around Albert Park Lake.

In the 40s and 50s polio caused paralysis in up to 500,000 children annually. The eradication program, possible because of a vaccine developed in the 50’s, became the flagship program for Rotary in 1979, at the instigation of the then RI President, Queenslander, Sir Clem Renouf. Initial work began in the Philippines but expanded in 1988 when WHO joined Rotary in a global eradication program. The program has been very successful but cases are still occurring in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Australia has been free of polio since 2000 but surprisingly there were cases in Europe as recently as 2015.

The program needs to continue so that all children are safe and Rotary’s aim is to eradicate polio within three years.

This year the walk has evolved into a district program with support throughout Australia and New Zealand but also Honiara India Canada Hawaii and even Norway. Due to COVID restrictions, individuals and team are participating in their own communities. By committing to a nominated distance during the month of October participants are raising funds from family friends and colleagues. Funds raised will be credited by Foundation to the annual giving by individuals and clubs.

District 9800 are matching 1:1 for funds raised by Rotarians and Bill and Melinda Gates through their foundation have committed to matching amounts raised by Rotarians 2:1, resulting in a factor of 6 for each $1 raised.  

Following the meeting, Footstrollers was formed by club members and a target of $3000 set. 

Our speaker for 19th November will be Professor Andrew Bennett completed a BSc (Hons) and PhD at the University of Melbourne, and worked for 12 years in wildlife research at the Arthur Rylah Institute for Environmental Research (Victorian State Government). In 1996 he moved to Deakin University and in 2008 was awarded a Personal Chair in Landscape Ecology. In 2015, he commenced a joint appointment as Professor of Ecology at La Trobe University and a Science Leadership role at the Arthur Rylah Institute. He has broad interests in landscape ecology and conservation biology, with a particular focus on understanding how human land-use and landscape change affect native wildlife and ecological processes.Together with colleagues and research students, he has investigated factors that influence wildlife conservation in agricultural landscapes, the effects of fire on biota (in ecosystems ranging from semi-arid mallee, to box-ironbark and foothill forests) and the conservation biology of numerous species of birds and mammals. 

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