Workplace safety is littered with good intentions that are not fulfilled but thankfully Tasmania has followed through on a pledge to create a workers’ memorial park. SafetyAtWorkBlog reported on the design launch by the, then, Minister for Workplace Relation Lisa Singh, two years ago.
The Tasmanian Workers’ Memorial Park, located in Elizabeth Gardens, Launceston, was opened in beautiful winter sunshine on 18 June 2011. Photographs of the park’s official opening are to be provided. Unions Tasmania Secretary Kevin Harkins said in a media release (not yet available online)
“…it is hoped that those affected by a workplace death would use the site as a memorial to their lost family member or friend, and that people walking through the park would be reminded of the need to be safe at work.”
This type of horticultural memorial provides a place of reflection for many issues and worker safety is as legitimate as any other issues but what needs to be reinforced is the purpose of the park. It is common to wander through a park and be oblivious of that park’s significance. The Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain is a good example of this. The purpose of the Tasmanian Workers’ Memorial Park, according to Singh in 2009 was to be
“A memorial dedicated to those who lost their lives at work is an important way of reminding the community that workplaces can be dangerous places..”
But trees alone will not achieve this aim, no will a once-a-year memorial service. Workplace safety advocates of all political persuasions need to conduct activities in this location (with council approval), meet colleagues there and perform other tasks which imbue the location with additional significance.
Other memorial gardens have been able to achieve a continuity of purpose by providing the chance for relatives to plant a specific tree to remember their lost relative. It seems that this is not an option for the Tasmanian Workers’ Memorial Park due to its prominent location but that is an understandable concession as long as the park’s existence is acknowledged and its purpose promoted.