Australia's oldest working scientist told to leave Uni post

DAVID Goodall, 102, can be found most days in his office at Edith Cowan University, where he claims the title of Australia's oldest working scientist.

He's had a career in ecology spanning 70 years, producing more than 100 research papers, earning three doctorates and receiving a member of the Order of Australia for his contribution to the field.

His work has taken him all over the world but now his travelling consists of a 90-minute commute that involves catching two buses and a train to the Joondalup, Perth campus.

"I have no social contact in the building where my flat is and few social contacts elsewhere in Perth actually," Dr Goodall said to ABC News.

"But I know most of the people in my office corridor and it's very nice to be able to go and talk to them from time to time even though they may be pretty busy."

He has served as an honorary research associate at the university for almost two decades but that's about to come to an end as the university has declared him unfit to be on campus.

The Dean of the School of Sciences, Andrew Woodward, said to ABC News the decision was made after numerous concerns were raised by staff and students about Dr Goodall's safety and wellbeing.

"This is not an easy thing for anybody," he said to ABC News.

"This is not a decision we've taken lightly, this is something that has been considered over a period of time.

"We are now of the opinion where the situation is at a point where we really do need to make this change in David's best interest and our own."

From next year Dr Goodall will only be permitted on campus for prearranged meetings and will have to be accompanied.

His daughter, Karen Goodall-Smith, said to ABC News that the decision would have a dramatic impact on his sense of independence and mental wellbeing.

"I said it would be the worst thing you could possibly do, I don't know if he would survive it," she said to ABC News.

"After everything he has contributed, for them to do that, I'm appalled."

Edith Cowan University said it wanted to continue its relationship with Dr Goodall and had just renewed his honorary professor position for a further three years.

However, it said he would have to work from a home office.

"We're going to be providing a computer, a printer," Mr Woodward said to ABC News.

"When he needs to come or he would like to come on campus for meetings or to interact with other staff and students he won't bear any cost for that, we'll arrange that transport for him."

Dr Goodall said he does not have room for a home office in his one bedroom unit and he was looking for an alternative space.

"I would be glad if they did reconsider it," he said to ABC News.

"But I don't feel that I'm in a position to press it."

He said he was eager to continue to contribute to the university, even from afar.

*What are your thoughts on this story? Do you think the University should revoke their decision? 

Contact us to share your opinion: editor@seniorsnewspaper.com.au 


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