CODE 2, VOL 34, NO 20 : 28 april 2020


International Workers’ Memorial Day falls on 28 April each year.

A day where the workers of the world pause for a second to honour those who have died at, or because of, work.  Even 20 years into this new century and millennium, workers are (in preventable ways) being killed at work, with the 2020 death toll already at 63 (total as at 23 April 2020 reported by Safework Australia).

I share with you in pausing to think of and honour the memory of those UFUQ members and other firefighters who have not made it home from work.

While many people think about workplace deaths as being acute and sudden, there are many other ways that work is taking the lives of workers.  One in particular is mental health.  Recent studies (for example Beyond Blue) have shown up to 20% of Australians have taken time off in the past 12 months because they felt ‘stressed, anxious, depressed or mentally unhealthy’.  Research has shown these rates are much higher amongst emergency service workers.

It is pleasing to your union and I am sure to all of you to hear that many jurisdictions around Australia are only now starting to take worker’s mental health seriously, and in positive news for those suffering from mental health illnesses, the Tasmanian government have recently listened to emergency service unions and incorporated presumptive legislation for PTSD and other mental health diagnoses into their legislation (and the NT government recently put a Bill before parliament for the same provisions).

Your union has earlier this year approached the Queensland state government to mirror these provisions and I will keep you updated on that work.  You will recall that your union fought for and succeeded in obtaining presumptive legislation for a range of cancers in 2015 and we expect we will again prevail.

The Beyond Blue report mentioned above also stated that employees reported that they were less likely to disclose within their workplace that they were experiencing a mental health condition or seek help from their employer if they felt the workplace was mentally unhealthy.

Our culture is to look out for each other and there are many examples of that over the years. Our trust in each other and our close friendships usually get us through the tough times but there is no shame in asking for help and your employer must change the way they deal with you if you do ask for help.

Report every hazard!
Ask for information on the resolution.
Speak up for each other!

John Oliver - General Secretary



Authorised by John Oliver General Secretary 
United Firefighters' Union of Australia, Union of Employees QLD