New path memorial for asbestos victims

Posted by: admin July 21st, 2014

Kilburn’s Jack Watkins Reserve now has a new pathway as a further memorial to people who have lost their life through asbestos-related disease.

The 140 square metre pathway, which runs adjacent to the memorial at the reserve, was opened on 25 November, which is Asbestos Victims Memorial Day, by the Premier Jay Weatherill and Port Adelaide Enfield Mayor Gary Johansen.

Ian Sheppard, President of the Asbestos Diseases Society of South Australia, said the pathway was first suggested by the widow of an industrial asbestos victim. Paving bricks are inscribed with the names of South Australians who had lost their life to asbestos related diseases.

“The memorial pathway is there for all widows, families and friends of asbestos disease victims,” Mr Sheppard said. Jack Watkins worked in the construction industry and became an active union organiser and advocate of Occupational Health and Safety, and of worker’s rights and conditions. Remembered by some as “Asbestos Jack”, he campaigned against the use of asbestos in the building trade for many decades.

With local residents, Jack fought both State and Federal governments for the clean-up of the Islington Rail waste site, and its conversion into a public park. Due to their efforts, this site was finally cleared of toxic wastes, including asbestos, and the park was established in 2003.

“It is terrific addition to a place that offers reflection for families and friends of asbestos victims,” Mr Sheppard said. “Asbestos disease sufferers and their families share a unique experience. The memorial and the reserve let these people come together and remember their loved ones.”

For more information about the memorial or the pathway, the Asbestos Diseases Society of South Australia can be contacted on 8359 2423 or by email