Hundreds of Rotarians will descend on Newcastle for a mass End Polio Now walk.
Polio, caused by the Poliovirus, is a serious disease that can lead to long-term disability, paralysis and death.
Australia has been officially polio-free since 2000, while the number of cases worldwide plummeted from 350,000 in 1987 to just 31 last year.
The disease is now contained to a small geographic area along the border of Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Rotary International, which has led a high-profile partnership that includes the World Health Organisation, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, UNICEF and the USA’s Centre for Disease and Control, aims to completely eradicate the polio virus within the next three years.
Apart from the walk, an annual conference will see about 500 Rotarians, partners and friends from District 9685 stay in Newcastle from Friday 29 to Sunday 31 March.
District 9685 is one of the largest in Australia, with an area that stretches from the Blue Mountains, through Sydney’s northern suburbs, and up to the Central Coast.
Governor Susan Wakefield OAM said her conference team had the full support of District 9670 – Newcastle and surrounds – to secure the NEX Centre in King Street and set-up the weekend’s program.
“We have attended a number of large Rotary events in Newcastle over the years and always found the venues and city easy to navigate,” she said.
“On visiting the city and dealing with the Newcastle council events staff and events team at NEX, we’ve been delighted with the level of expertise and the friendly way we have interacted with the teams involved.
“Add to that [the city’s] natural beauty, why would we not choose Newcastle?”
The conference will be opened by Newcastle lord mayor Nuatali Nelmes on the Saturday at 8.30am.
The End Polio Now walk is due to start that afternoon at 2.30pm at Civic Park. Members of the public are welcome to attend and are asked to wear a red shirt.
The Sunday program will include a talk from former federal police officer, Libby Bleakley, on ‘Inspiring Lives in East Timor’; Dr Vera Sistenich on Aboriginal health, medical education, asylum seekers and emergency medicine in the Congo; and detective superintendent Deborah Wallace on ‘My Life of Crime’.