Interviewee: Mrs Dorothy June Smith
Date of Birth: 1951
Interviewer: Meryl Gardiner
Date of Interview: 27 August 2018
Synopsis: Charlotte Whincup
BOHG No: 2018-010
Total Length: 35 minutes
After suffering the loss of two very close people in her life to cancer, her husband and her mother, within a few years of each other, Dot Smith had the courage and vision to set up Australia’s first cancer care centre called Dot’s Place in Bunbury, WA. She did this with the help of her bank manager and their philanthropic division, Suzanne Rooney, CEO of the Cancer Council (WA) and more importantly her second husband Alan, and her children.
At Dot’s Place, Bunbury and South West WA residents who are suffering the insidious disease called cancer, and their family members, can access such services as “Look Good … Feel Better” program, wig and turban fitting, financial counselling and cooking classes, without the need of travelling the long and tiring distances to Perth.
Meryl Gardiner of the Bunbury Oral History Group had the pleasure of sitting down with Dot, at Dot’s Place, a beautiful and charming house built in about 1930s in Forrest Avenue, originally owned by the Payton family, who were and are a well-known family in the South West. Dot describes how the house was renovated and why the centre was set up in October 2010, based on a UK initiative called Maggie’s Centre.
This inspiring story is of a woman who has helped others after seeing a need for cancer sufferers from country regions not being able to access services that are common place in the cities. However, Dot hasn’t just stopped at one Dot’s Place! She has worked on the positive reactions to the services on offer in Bunbury and the required infrastructure allowing the Cancer Council to operate from, and two years ago she opened up another Dot’s Place just north of Mandurah.
Dot’s Place has been the model for other centres that have since opened up in Australia.
The Bunbury Oral History Group wish Dot and the Cancer Council all the best in continuing to assist those in need.