21/11/17 Press Release
Justice for Josh: charges laid against those responsible for teen’s Work for the Dole death
575 days after 18-year-old Josh Park-Fing died at a Toowoomba Work for Dole site, three different parties have been charged for health and safety breaches that ultimately resulted in tragedy.
Park-Fing suffered critical head injuries at the Toowoomba Showgrounds in April last year after he fell from a moving flatbed trailer–a work for the dole activity he was forced into by NEATO Employment Services, so he could “earn” a miserly $218.75 per week in youth allowance.
NEATO, the Royal Agricultural Society of Queensland, and Work for the Dole project co-ordinator, Adrian Strachan, were charged by the Queensland Office of Industrial Relations last Wednesday for breaching the Work Health Safety Act 2001, and could face a combined maximum penalty of over $3.5 million.
AUWU vice-president, Ewen Kloas, said he hopes that this impending court case “…will result in some closure for Josh’s family, who have been demanding answers and justice ever since his death some 18 months ago.”
“It’s disgraceful that Josh’s family have been waiting so long to find out what really happened to him on that site and why,” he said.
As part of its #JusticeforJosh campaign, the AUWU has repeatedly petitioned the federal government, and Employment Minister Michaelia Cash, to release the results of their investigations into the tragic accident. All these requests have been denied.
To date, the government has offered no explanation of the incident, or what they’ve done–if anything–to improve health and safety at future Work for the Dole sites.
“This inaction is simply staggering when you realise that under the Coalition’s current jobactive program Work for the Dole injuries have already increased five-fold,” Mr. Kloas said.
In the wake of new charges laid on behalf of Josh Park-Fing, Minister Cash and her government will be under further pressure to justify how the employment services industry can continue to operate without adequate regulation and policing.
According to a government-commissioned report by Ernst and Young, last year 64% of Work for the Dole risk assessments failed to fully comply with standard workplace health and safety procedures.
“We hope these new legal developments in the Park-Fing case are a wake up call for Minister Cash,” Mr. Kloas said.
“There needs to be a thorough investigation into a for-profit job service industry that clearly doesn’t prioritise job seeker safety.”
The AUWU continues to campaign for #JusticeforJosh–demanding the government start taking the necessary steps to investigate the Work for the Dole program before another serious death or injury occurs.
Our petition demanding the government release the report into Josh’s death.
In April last year, 18 year-old Josh Park-Fing tragically died at his Government-approved Work for the Dole site in Toowoomba.
Distraught family members and the shocked members of the public demanded answers. Minister of Employment Michaelia Cash indicated that an investigation would be carried out into the tragedy and a report would be released within a month.
Eleven months on and the Park-Fing family, Josh’s friends, and the general public are still waiting for the report into this tragedy to be released.
Furthermore, immediately following the tragedy the Australian Unemployed Workers’ Union (AUWU) made an FOI request for the Government’s Work for the Dole risk assessment conducted for the Toowoomba site.
This request has also been rejected by Minister Cash because it contained information that could “harm” NEATO – Josh Park-Fing’s job agency.
By withholding this crucial information relating to the Work for the Dole tragedy, the Coalition is shamelessly trying to cover up Josh Park-Fing’s death to protect the already damaged reputation of the Work for the Dole program.
This is a national disgrace.
Work for the Dole is dangerous – last year injuries sustained at Work for the Dole sites increased 5 times. According to a recent government commissioned report by Ernst and Young, 36% of Work For The Dole activities do not meet basic safety standards.
The government cannot guarantee the safety of unemployed workers forced to attend Work for the Dole programs.
Work for the Dole must be shut down.
Please sign this petition to demand the release of the report into Josh Park-Fing’s death and the Work for the Dole risk assessment.
The Turnbull government must take the necessary steps to investigate this program and ensure the safety of all Work for the Dole participants before another serious injury or death occurs at Work for the Dole.
The AUWU has launched a Justice For Josh campaign (#JusticeforJosh) and is calling on Australians to call Minister Cash’s office to demand the release of the report and the risk assessment. Please share the facebook event throughout your networks.
Minister Cash’s contact details are below:
Parliamentary office: (02) 6277 7320
Electoral Office: (08) 9226 2000
If you are one of the 90,000 Australians currently participating in a Work for the Dole activity, the AUWU encourages you to assert your right to participate in a non-Work for the Dole activity – such as Voluntary Work or approved study – until your safety can be guaranteed. See here for more info or call the AUWU hotline on (03) 8394 5266.