National Workers Memorial opens

Yesterday Australia opened its National Workers Memorial in Canberra.  The Workplace Relations Minister  Bill Shorten, spoke at the ceremony with, largely, an edited and reduced version of the speech he presented in Brisbane earlier last week.  The Canberra speech dropped  all the ANZAC Day references and spoke about the importance of remembering.

“By erecting this monument, we tie the lives and memories and families of thousands of Australians to this place.  We stand here in this place as a mark of respect from a civilised community as an expression of failure and regret.  That’s what all memorials are, and this one is no different.  This is a symbol of the mourning for those lost too early from our tribe Australia.”

Speaking at the inauguration of a memorial allows people to be more reflective and sombre but a national memorial allows an opportunity to address a national audience (although it seems that only Canberra’s newspapers and the ABC are interested) and Shorten did so.  In his speech he asks the:

“…captains of industry, and I ask union leaders, and I ask workers…do not accept poor OH&S standards quietly.

Do not accept near enough is close enough.

Do not accept silence about health and safety standards.

Too often it ends up in the prolonged silence a place like this generates.”

One SafetyAtWorkBlog reader pointed out that government needs to work to these standards and expectations also.

The ABC news report allows Shorten to reiterate the Australian government’s commitment to addressing workplace bullying but he seems to be edited before expanding on this comment.  The ACTU raises the issue of industrial manslaughter laws which is a curious comment as it is understood that the new Work Health and Safety laws around most of Australia already have the same type of punishments and penalties that industrial manslaughter laws would have.  The only thing missing is the title of “industrial manslaughter”.

It is also noted that the Australian Capital Territory, where the national memorial was unveiled, already has industrial manslaughter laws.

SafetyAtWorkBlog is attending the Victorian memorial this morning and will be reporting on the event later today.

Kevin Jones

reservoir, victoria, australia

2 thoughts on “National Workers Memorial opens”

  1. In South Australia we held our annual remembrance event where we estimate between 150 to 200 people attended the Workers Memorial Service. We are mindful to maintain a very warm and personal atmosphere and all the while, this event has been able to offer a high level of comfort to families on just a few hundred dollars … most of it donated on the day to go toward next years event.

    Unfortunately, I would guess very, very limited number of families will ever have an opportunity to see this $3M+ memorial in Canberra. It certainly looks impressive but possibly serves a very limited role for families outside of Canberra.

    I certainly would agree though, a meeting with Minister Shorten would be a terrific idea. I look forward to that one Rosemary! 🙂


    It has been a long journey from the first committee meeting till yesterday when workers Glade was dedicated. There were many families from all parts of Australia there to mourn their lost loved ones, there were tears and there were hugs from strangers, and there was a peace that I had not felt before.

    I tied leaves from my brothers memorial tree to the sprig of rosemary, others placed photos of lost family members.
    Hands were held as all of us shared our grief and our memories.

    Now we move to do more.
    It is time we built an educational trust fund for the children of deceased workers, we as a community need to step into the role that is left vacant to ensure that the dreams of the children can be realized.
    I spoke briefly with Minister Shorten about this need yesterday. My hope is that he keeps his word to visit me when he comes to Adelaide so the conversation can gain real traction.

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