New Workers’ Memorial announced for Australia

In May 2011, the Australian Government announced the development of a National Worker’s Memorial.  The winning design, selected by an independent jury from a competitive pool of 26 entries, was announced in Canberra this evening.

Workplace Relations Minister Bill Shorten announced that Architects Johnson Pilton Walker have been awarded the task.  In a media statement Shorten said that

 “The memorial will honour and pay tribute to all working Australians who have died as a result of work-related accidents, incidents and disease… It will also provide an important focal point for the national commemoration of Workers’ Memorial Day, recognised internationally on 28 April each year.”

He described the memorial as “functional” and

“featuring a series of tall, slender columns representing the contributions and sacrifice of workers from each state and territory in Australia.”

The National Capital Authority (NCA) says this about the design:

“The design titled ‘Workers Glade’ was developed by Sydney based architecture firm, Johnson Pilton Walker.

It features eight slender columns clad in stone unique to the state or territory each represents. Viewed from above, the locations of the columns, laid out like a map of Australia, correspond with the locations of each state’s capital city. The columns provide a place where visitors can leave tokens of remembrance for loved ones.

Concentric rings on the plaza pavement surrounding the columns represent the ‘ripple effect’ a work related death has on family, friends and the local community. The ripples will contain milestones and positive steps taken to improve health and safety outcomes and the prevention of work-related accidents and disease in Australia.”

Other memorials in Australia vary between a rock in Victoria, a sculpture in New South Wales and gardens in Tasmania and South Australia.  The above design  is a bit of both.  One of the downsides of an inner suburban memorial is that often they are on noisy traffic intersections where reflection is difficult and any commemoration creates traffic hazards.  Gardens can be quite useful, particularly if people are able to plant their own memorial trees, but as is possible with the Princess of Wales Memorial Walk in Hyde Park in London, one can be in a memorial and not realise it.

The “Workers’s Glade” is reminiscent of the New Zealand war memorial in London with its poles and space, although the war memorial is easy to pass on the bus or as a pedestrian.

The symbolism of the ripples is clear but how does one depict the “positive steps” to prevent harm?  Not sure about that one.

It is understood that by having the national memorial administered by the National Capital Authority, the memorial is appropriately maintained and becomes part of the list of many other memorials in Canberra.

The Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR) has provided $3 million for the construction of the memorial.

NCA advises that  a public dedication of the memorial is anticipated in April 2013.  April 28 would be a good guess.

Kevin Jones

reservoir, victoria, australia
Categories community, death, design, government, grief, OHS, politics, safety, ShortenTags , , , , ,

10 thoughts on “New Workers’ Memorial announced for Australia”

  1. I admit that I am a late entrant into this discussion, I am hopeful that I will be forgiven simply because I have been flat out since I have returned from Canberra and the launch of the Deceased Workers Memorial.

    The article that Kevin posted was about the Deceased Workers Memorial. my role in it has been exceedingly small, however I can say I am proud to have played the part I was invited to be involved with.
    On Wednesday morning I stood in Kings Park on the very site where the Memorial will be built, I am not ashamed to say I shed tears because I held in my hands the design of the Memorial, and I held in my heart the lives lost to all of us via the workplace.
    I could see and feel the impact of the Memorial and I could understand the depth of importance that the Memorial would bring into all our lives.

    There are many aspects of the Memorial design that I was able to discuss with the design team, there were aspects of the concepts that touched me because of the simplicity of the approach taken -tiny things such as receptacles for flowers to be placed into the various pillars, then ripples on the floor indicating the wider impact of workplace death-

    Then there is the lesson for all of us who work within the workers compensation and safety industry to learn. And that is the everyone has the right to return home alive and well.

    For now I am not willing to debate if legislation is the way to go or if unions have strayed from their core business.
    For now I want to simply celebrate the achievement of a truly stunning Memorial that will provide solace to all those who have lost a loved one by showing that we as a Nation have also lost a loved one.

    There will be a time and a place where my points of view in regard to legislation can be debated, but not now.
    Now I just want to celebrate the achievement of the National Deceased Workers Memorial and invite those who can attend to mark April 28th 2013 into their diaries so that we can all gather at the “Workers Glade” and share each others grief and loss.

    Yours in service
    Rosemary McKenzie-Ferguson
    Work Injured Resource Connection
    Deceased Workers Memorial Forest

  2. Why would the TWU turn up to the memorial service? They wont win anymore money or any elections doing that so its pointless to them!

    Unions don’t really care about safety, most unions oppose drug and alcohol testing even though its a major risk to the health and safety of their members.

    And lets face it,most unions are merely there to grab cash, cause a ruckuss and get their leaders into labour front benches. The true fights are long gone, they already fought and won them at least two decades ago (admirably for the large part). They now just own property and fund elections.

    1. Brett, this is harsh and unfair. I have attended several Transport Workers Union safety conferences over the years. Some of these had over 600 attendees in one State and all have been progressive, useful and committed to safety.

      I also believe that the TWU and the transport industry generally have been the leaders in workplace fatigue management in Australia.
      Unions do care about workplaces but also have other industrial agendas. They must prioritise issues for the greatest effectiveness.

      I agree with your point on the slow progress on drug and alcohol testing. I have heard that some industry sectors have identified, through drug and alcohol testing, that 5% of its workforce have come to work impaired. Drugs and alcohol are becoming so pervasive that the need for testing cannot be avoided.

      If you believe that unions don’t care about safety, I can understand the accusations in your last paragraph but I don’t believe this is the case and I think that many readers will be able to identify tangible safety improvements in Australian workplaces that would not have occurred but for union involvement.

  3. Jennifer, Rosemary and I advocate for the same thing.. continuously.. Rosemary and I are on par with our tireless voluntary hours, and no funding to help families like yours. Many things need to be fixed, and hence why we highlight the issues on blogs like this… in the hope that someone has some compassion to take our concerns on board and change things for the better . There is a few support brochures on our that may be helpful to your son.

    Regards Di

  4. Ms Carroll I represent my son -a transport driver- who required many long hours of help from Rosemary to help him come to terms with what happened to him and to find a way to accept that he had no control over the event that happened.

    Even now Adam still relies on knowing that Rosemary will answer his call regardless of the time of day or night.

    My point was not to detract from the Trades Hall Memorial in Victoria, or any of the union based memorials around Australia.
    Nor to take away the importance of the various memorials to transport workers such as the one in Tarcutta. (yes I have been there with my son)
    My point was to highlight that Rosemary works very long hard hours without any of the sponsors that others attract.

    As for the TWU and the government not acting to protect transport workers via legislation, my only comment is that if something needs to be fixed, then best fix it.
    I am not able to protest on the steps of any Parliament House, however I can write to the various State and Federal ministers to ask them why such an important industry as the transport industry is not covered by legislation.

    Finally Ms Carroll if I have offended you, I am sorry, that was not my intent, my intent was to highlight that there is the Deceased Workers Memorial Forest here in Adelaide, it was started by the person who saved my son’s life. And it does acknowledge the lives lost within the transport industry.

  5. Ms Edgemore, thank you for your response and personal view.

    I personally know Rosemary and the wonderful work and memorial that is held annually and we network often .

    I am wondering Ms Edgemore, if you know who we are and what we do? Maybe visit our website and find out Once you understand exactly what we do and who we support, you will understand our view.

    Yes I have been to the Trades Hall service in Melbourne and was horrified to find on the occasion I went that of the 250 + that we’re killed that year only one wash recognised and that was because it occurred in a transport yard. All the unions were present except TWU on that occasion and I have not returned. hence my comment above !

    A final question Ms Edgemore “I would be interested to know who you represent?”.

    Dianne Carroll – OAM
    Trans-Help Foundation Ltd
    Chief Executive Officer  l AdvDip CouncPsych
    P.O Box  141   Tarcutta NSW, 2652  I 69  Centenary Ave, Tarcutta, NSW 2652
    Ph: 1300 787 996  I Direct: +61 2 6928 7000

    1. Dianne

      I never drive to Sydney without stopping at the Tarcutta memorial and paying my respects. I believe Tarcutta is being bypassed. Will the Tarcutta Memorial remain in the same location?

      On the more general concerns raised in the current blog comments, not all States acknowledge or record road deaths occuring during work activities as work-related deaths, even though work vehicles have been considered as workplaces for many years in most states. WorkSafe Victoria produced a safe driving guide in 2008 but this was focussed to “employers, fleet managers and drivers with light fleet vehicles”.

      This issue will be resolved over the next few years as the Work Health and Safety laws are worked through. The point of contention seems to me to relate to the definitional change that a workplace is wherever work is done. With this definition, any person driving any vehicle as part of their work duties is a worker in an workplace and therefore covered by the OHS laws.

  6. Jennifer, you seem to miss the point entirely. Ms Carroll is addressing concerns as to why Transport workers are not treated the same as other workers by the government and their own union, not what others are doing to honour them. Trans-help does a great deal already in that regard, there is no suggestion no one is honouring them. The concern is why the government and TWU choose to ignore an industry which society relies on so much and sees to many tragadies. Why are they not as valued as any other worker who has lost their lives?
    In regards to the question about whether Ms Carroll or anyone from Trans-help attends in Melbourne, I would ask, do you donate to their organisation, so that they can attend memorials where the people they represent aren’t being honoured? I don’t know the answer to whether they have or not, but as a donor myself, I would see that as somewhat as a waste of time and money, knowing how many they help, better they spend the money aiding those left behind from a workplace tragedy. The TWU have plenty more at their access than an organisation which receives no government support. I didn’t detect anger in Ms Carroll’s post, but I think every TWU member should be, that their own union doesn’t value them.

  7. Ms Carroll I wonder if you are aware of the work that Work Injured Resource Connection in Adelaide does, in particular the Deceased Workers Memorial Forest.

    Every year Rosemary McKenzie-Ferguson (who was mentioned in the article in todays Canberra Times ) the founder of Work Injured Resource Connection ensures that when conducting the memorial tree planting that a tree is planted to represent the loss of life in the transport industry.

    May I suggest that instead of being angry that legislation does not reflect support the transport drivers that you connect with Rosemary who is making quite headway without demanding that the TWU support her.

    Finally a question to you, “Ms Carroll do you or anyone from Trans Help make the trip to Trades Hall in Melbourne as a mark of respect for the transport workers who have died due to work?”
    I mean no disrespect to you Ms Carroll, it is just a question that seems to need answering

  8. Whilst the memorials are very welcomed I have a huge concern that on average we loose approx 250 transport drivers in their line of duty each year, some 4000+ in the last 20 years and none of these will be eligible to be recognised because the legislations do not classify truck accidents as work place accidents, if they were they would be investigated and we would have less fatalities… Trade Hall has an annual memorial service, and none of the truck drivers are recognised and Twu don’t even turn up… Very hypocritical

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