1989 January – February: Lindenow

During January to February 1989 my husband Noel Conway and I were living and working near Lindenow in the Mitchell River area of East Gippsland. We were labouring on the broccoli, bean and gherkin crops. The shack we lived in had no running water so we drank from the river which flowed through a crop run-off area. We also had several experiences where crop dusting planes worked in very close proximity. This happened just near our dwelling and while we were working on the crops. On the 9th of January I became pregnant and we left Lindenow in early March.

My son Clancy is now 19 months old but has the development of a child about 11 to 12 months. He crawled at 15 months and is now able to stand with the support of a table. He will probably walk before he is two. In his first year he was partially deaf but now his hearing is normal. He wears glasses. A CAT scan revealed that his brain is abnormally structured. The neurologist at Princess Margaret Hospital, Perth says the damage to Clancy’s body happened in the first trimester of pregnancy. The cause, they say, is either from external factors, such as poisoning, or it is genetic. My husband and I both feel that pesticides are the more likely cause.

The abnormality of Clancy’s brain will never allow him to develop normally, according to the [hospital] neurologists. He will be mentally and physically handicapped for the rest of his life. Clancy is underweight, has low body tone, is partially deaf, very long sighted and developmentally delayed. Amazingly, he looks like a normal person and has a normal life expectancy. ***, Fremantle, Western Australia May 1991. Quick Poison Slow Poison. Pesticide Risk in the Lucky Country. Kate Short 1994