Catherine Martin (journalist)

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Catherine Martin (1919 - 17 April 2009) was a journalist for The West Australian newspaper from 1957, specialising in medical reporting. She was born in the United Kingdom but emigrated to Western Australia and lived there for most of her life.

In 1978 she began investigating the high incidence of death and disease among workers at the Australian Blue Asbestos mine at Wittenoom Gorge (see Wittenoom, Western Australia). Martin was able to access a study by Professor Michael Hobbs, a University of Western Australia epidemiologist, of the mine workers and their families. This study found a high incidence of illness and death from asbestos-related diseases among the small number of workers in the sample.

Between 1947 and 1967 when the mine was closed more than 6500 people had been employed at Wittenoom. Nearly half the workers had been European migrants, some of whom had returned to their homelands.

In 1978 the effects of pleural abnormalities and other asbestos-related diseases were beginning to show up in the former mine workers. Martin's front-page story for The West Australian won a Walkley award and she produced a series of another nine articles highlighting the impact on workers and their families.

Martin was made a Member of the Order of Australia on 12 June 1982 for services to journalism. She had won numerous awards for journalism including the Walkley four times, the Arthur Lovekin five times and a number of Australian Medical Association awards. Martin also received the inaugural Gold Walkley in 1978.

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