For several years Australia has been designing and constructing a National Workers Memorial. This weekend, on the World Day for Safety and Health at Work, Australia holds its first national remembrance day at the new memorial on the banks Lake Burley Griffin in Australia’s capital city, Canberra.
The memorial has been coordinated by the National Capital Authority who has established a website for this memorial. The website will have live coverage of the inauguration ceremony at 11.00am AEST.
The intriguing part of the inauguration ceremony is that speeches are limited to around 5 minutes, if that, and the focus will be on the memorial and its significance. Political statements may occur off site or prior to the event but that is the case with every event that includes politicians.
The inauguration is a public event and Canberrans are encouraged to attend but the committee has also invited a good cross-section of workplace safety advocates with representatives from
- Work Injury Resource Connection
- Asbestos Diseases Foundation of Australia
- Workplace Tragedy Support Group
- The Workplace Tragedy Family Support
- Bernie Banton Foundation
- Asbestos Diseases Society of Australia
- Industrial Deaths Support and Advocacy Inc
It would be good to see official representatives of the Safety Institute of Australia, the National Safety Council of Australia and Safety In Workplaces Australia and others at this ceremony.
It is noted that Safe Work Australia is holding the National Safe Work Australia Awards in the early evening of April 29. It makes sense to coordinate such an event with the workers memorial day but at previous awards nights the significance of the day has rarely been acknowledged. A minute’s silence would be quite telling.
The purpose of Australia’s memorial is
- “serve as a reminder of the importance of workplace safety and the need to continue to work together as a nation to improve health and safety performance and prevent work-related incidents, accidents and disease
- honour and pay tribute to all of the working Australians who have lost their lives to work-related accidents, incidents or disease
- provide a place to reflect and remember the sacrifice of all such workers who have lost their lives
- recognise and celebrate the vital contribution and significant achievements of Australian workers in building this nation
- provide a focal point for International Workers’ Day held 28 April each year.”
Several Australian States should emulate locating their workers memorials in apolitical locations. Victoria’s memorial is located in the grounds of the Victorian Trades Hall, a contentious location which encourages topical political statements from union representatives (as pictured right) about workplace safety and even, in the past, sloganeering for upcoming elections. The focus of any commemoration should be on those we have lost and a dignified ceremony can be just as motivating as any political rallying.