September 23rd 2010
Vale Dr Dot Cole: 1929 - 2010
Noted as a pioneer of social justice in North Queensland but also as a much-loved member of the Magnetic Island community since she and her husband Alastair moved to Magnetic in 1996, Dr Dot Cole passed away at the age of 81 yesterday. In recognition of Dot and her great achievements Magnetic Times is reissuing a story "Women's champion recognised" which we published following her being awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Letters by James Cook University in 2005 in recognition of her enormous achievements.
Women's champion recognised
In the early 1970s she spoke to a group of trainee teachers about the high incidence of unplanned pregnancies at the Townsville Teacher's College and suggested that young women should consider carrying protection in their hand bags - a proposal considered quite provocative for those times - but, last Saturday, Dr Dorothy "Dot" Cole of Nelly Bay was recognised for her achievements and awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Letters at James Cook Uni's Graduation Ceremony.
"You could have knocked me down with a feather" was Dot Cole's reaction when she first heard of her nomination and admitted that since Saturday, "I'm still in a whirl!"
Dot Cole was recognised for a many achievements and an extract from her citation reads:
It was in Townsville that Dr Cole found her niche. She was fiercely committed to social justice and equity, applying the policy of bulk billing to a wide range of patients.
She provided excellent medical care to all, including those disadvantaged in the community and those with mental health problems.
She went on to be instrumental in bringing a fertility control practitioner to Townsville.
Dr Cole has played a remarkably important role in the lives of north Queensland women and, through her tireless lobbying, assisted in the establishment of Townsville's first women's shelter in 1975. She was the consulting doctor for almost 20 years.
In the late 70s she assisted in opening of a rape crisis centre in Townsville, and in 1983 was instrumental in the setting up of the first abortion clinic in Townsville.
Dr Cole was a pioneer when it came to Indigenous health ...and assisted in the creation of the Aboriginal and Islander Health Service in 1980.
Dr Jane Thomson, Head of the School of Social Science at James Cook University nominated Dot for the award. Dr Thomson told Magnetic Times, "I knew the extent of Dot's contribution and I didn't want it to go unrecognised."
The controversial work Dot Cole pioneered was occurring in many other parts of Australia at the time and, according to Dr Thomson, "It was tough everywhere but to be a visionary in the very tough political climate of those times (in Queensland) with no support was really brave. She copped so much flack, hate mail and vitriolic letters in the paper we might think today that it could never have happened. I think other progressive women backed away but Dot wouldn't.
As an inspiration to younger practitioners Dr Thomson said, "Younger doctors could learn to get more passion for vulnerable people and (like Dot) never, never, never give up!"
When pressed on what she thought was Dot Cole's most significant public achievement Dr Thomson said, "It is so hard but through her commitment to women's rights it is possible that Townsville's first Women's Shelter would never have got going.
The Townsville Women's Shelter opened in 1975. Along with the Rape Crisis Service these organisations presently deal with up to 22,000 clients per year.
With such a strong and demonstrated need it seems hardly surprising that the University supported the nomination which Dr Thomson described as, "A very rigorous process to get through."
George Hirst 2005
Dot is survived by her husband Alastair, her daughter Anne and granddaughters Danika and Sharni, her daughter Sue and partner Kerry, her son Ian and partner Angela and their children Zoe and Ben, her son Malcolm and his partner Anna and their children Paloma, Eugenie and Bella.
A funeral for Dot will be held at Morleys Lakes Chapel at 2pm Saturday 25 Sept. Following, refreshments will be served at Kerry and Sue's, 34 Queens Rd Hermit Park.
A Magnetic Island celebration of Dot's life will be held at her and Alastair's home at 1 The Esplanade in Nelly Bay from 2pm to 5pm on Sunday 26 September.