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Centenarian scientist to stay

Dr Goodall says he is grateful the university has been able to accommodate him. Source: ABC News. Photo: Charlotte Hamlyn.

Charlotte Hamlyn, WA university reverses decision to eject 102-year-old scientist from campus20 December 2016

A 102-year-old scientist will remain on campus at a Perth university after the institution reversed a decision to kick him out of his office.

Doctor David Goodall is Australia’s oldest working scientist, having studied ecology for more than 70 years.

He now serves in an unpaid position at Edith Cowan University as an honorary research associate.

He has been travelling to his office at the university’s Joondalup campus at least four days a week, catching a train and two buses during his 90-minute commute.

But in August ECU advised him that from next year he would have to work from home because he presented a health and safety risk.

It has now reversed that decision, having found more suitable accommodation at its Mt Lawley campus.

ECU vice-chancellor Steve Chapman said the new arrangement involved compromise on both sides.

“It is better in many ways,” Mr Chapman said.

“First of all it’s closer to his residence and it’s easier for him to commute.

“Secondly, there’s an office very close that’s manned all the time so we will be able to keep an eye on him that he’s okay.

“Thirdly, he’s agreed to inform us when he comes in so that if he didn’t arrive we could check what had happened.

“All round I think it’s a better solution for him and a better solution for the university.”

Dr Goodall said while he was disappointed to be leaving his original office, he was grateful the university had been able to accommodate him.

“Given that I had to move, this is satisfactory,” he said.

“I hope to continue with some useful work in my field in so far as my eyesight permits. But I still think the emphasis on safety was unnecessary.”

Dr Goodall’s plight gained international attention, sparking debate about the value of older people in the workforce.

“I think people were rather sympathetic to me as a centenarian who wanted to continue life in society,” Dr Goodall said.

“I prefer to be on campus because there are other people around and people who potentially are friends.”

Dr Goodall has accepted an offer from the university to serve as an unpaid honorary research associate for another three years.

Council of Australasian Museum Directors, c/o Ms Daryl Karp, Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House PO Box 3934 Manuka, Australian Capital Territory 2603 Australia, © CAMD 2021
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