IWMD 2023 Colin Radford

Thanks well, and good morning, everyone. I too would like to acknowledge the traditional custodians of these lands and pay my respects to elder’s past and present and to anyone who may be beginning their leadership journey. I extend those respects to any First Nations people here this morning.

And I thank you for helping me to better understand and appreciate my own connection to these lands and waters. Importantly, together with Wil I acknowledge that sovereignty was never ceded, and that this always was and always will be Aboriginal land. I’d also like to thank Luke and Wil and Victorian Trade Hall Council for inviting me here to speak.

Today’s remembrance event is a special as it is moving. And this is the fourth time I’ve spoken at this service as WorkSafe CEO. And I have to say that it pains me that we have to have days such as today, because it means people are continuing to tragically needlessly die at or because of their work. And each year, as we look upon the dozens of empty boots and shoes of Victorians who’ve lost their lives at work, my heart breaks for their families, their colleagues and their communities.

To every Victorian family who has lost a loved one as a result of a workplace incident, I am deeply sorry for your loss and on behalf of WorkSafe, I offer you our sincere condolences. And to those families here today, I thank you for your courage in attending this service, for your grace and your dignity and for sharing memories of your loved ones. We will never forget them. Your determination to ensure that no other family has to experience the pain and the loss that you have suffered is incredibly humbling.

On behalf of WorkSafe and I think everyone here today, I’d like to make a solemn promise to stand beside you to never rest until no Victorian worker is injured or killed at work. And the heartbreak I feel when I look upon those empty boots and shoes is matched only by the anger and the frustration that I know we all feel. It is simply unforgivable that in a so-called modern society, people continue to die at work. We simply must do better.

Every work-related death, every workplace injury is entirely and utterly preventable. We need every industry, every workplace, every one of us to demand nothing less. We need to be relentless in our pursuit of workplaces free of injury and disease. We need to stand together and say Enough.  We owe it to the families who are with us today and to every family who has lost a loved one at work. We owe it to every person here today, to every fallen worker and their colleagues. We owe it to the entire Victorian community. There is absolutely nothing inevitable or acceptable about workplace deaths and serious injuries. No task, no deadline, no profit or productivity gain is worth risking a life.

Now today it’s not just about looking ahead. It is about reflection and remembrance, mourning and celebrating the lives of the Victorian workers that we have lost. It is for all of us an incredibly difficult day. But it must also strengthen our collective resolve to do better. And most importantly, it is a powerful rallying cry to remember the dead and fight like hell for the living. Thank you.

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