Family and Injured Worker Support Group

We are a group of people who have suffered a serious work-related incident, or have a family member who has died in a workplace-related incident. We use our experience to advise government.

On this page

What we do

The Family and Injured Worker Support Group is an independent advisory body to SafeWork. Our members work with SafeWork to:

  • engage with affected persons through targeted and constructive consultation to improve service delivery
  • provide advice and make recommendations to SafeWork about the support needs of affected persons
  • advocate for WHS in the community through actively contributing to the development and dissemination of WHS messages, and, 
  • network with others in similar circumstances and engage with people affected by serious workplace incidents.

For more information please check our Terms of Reference.

Crisis support

Being injured or losing a loved one to a workplace fatality is traumatic.  If you are experiencing mental ill-health it’s important to remember that you’re not alone and support is available.  

If you need support, call one of the following numbers 24/7: 

Lifeline on 13 11 14

Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467

Other ways to get support  

If you don’t want to use these services, still talk to someone you trust, like: 

  • your GP, a counsellor, psychologist or psychiatrist  

  • a manager, friend or family member 

Your workplace may offer an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) for free and confidential counselling. 

Meet the group

The group has about 12 members, who meet every 3 to 4 months. All have first-hand experience of either being injured at work, or are a family member of someone who has died in a work-related incident. 

Darren Flanagan (Chair)

Darren Flanagan

Darren Flanagan is an accomplished miner and explosives expert, who was instrumental in rescuing trapped underground miners in Beaconsfield, Tasmania in April 2006.  

Heading far underground and operating more than 70 individual explosives for more than 30 hours, Darren was instrumental in rescuing the two miners, who walked free two weeks after the mine collapse.

He has since become a highly respected motivational speaker on risk management, mental health and workplace safety.

This lived experience was crucial in Darren’s appointment in 2020 to chair SafeWork’s Family and Injured Workers Support Group (FIWSG).

Members

Mark Ellis
Mark Ellis

Mark was injured in a side-loader forklift incident in May 2016 that resulted in an amputation of the right leg above the knee. He has since been able to return to work and play golf while wearing a prosthetic.

What I bring to this group is ‘Life Experiences’ of an injured worker which covers things like, what to expect from being at home for a lengthy recovery period, returning to work, returning to life tasks, setbacks to your recovery, returning to hobbies/sports and most importantly the effect on family that an incident has."

Mark Johnston
Mark Johnston

Mark joined the Family and Injured Worker Support Group in the hope of improving Safework’s process with communication and procedures, after receiving multi trauma injuries from a farming incident.

My goal is to help people that are involved in an investigation and or incident through the issues I had during my journey.

 

 

Linda Moussa
Linda Moussa

Linda’s husband, Iremar da Silva, was killed at a construction site in Ryde due to the unsafe work practices of two construction companies in October 2016.

Apart from the immeasurable grief of losing my life partner, I have had to deal with many different processes and organisations such as the Police, the Coroner, SafeWork and lawyers in different capacities.

"I was not ready for any of this and it has not been smooth sailing, but I have learnt a great deal from this experience; nothing will bring back my husband or the life I used to have ... but I feel that I can share this knowledge I have gained to empower others in the same situation to navigate the various proceedings in which they will be involved with clarity, direction and agency."

Debra Pascall
Debra Pascall, a member of the Family and Injured Worker Support Group

Debra lost her 28 year old son, Benjamin in a workplace incident in May 2018. Benjamin and a fellow work colleague died as a result of being exposed to toxic levels of hydrogen sulphide. Sadly, a work colleague devastated by the trauma of the incident took his own life only two weeks later. Benjamin and his colleagues sudden and tragic deaths sent shock waves not only throughout the local community but nationally, shattering the illusion that companies adhere to safe work practices.

The experience of Benjamin’s death highlighted the need for timely communication, complete transparency and the empathy of human connection. 

The Family and Injured Workers Support Group has provided the platform I was seeking to advocate for change in how workers and their families affected by workplace incidents receive immediate and ongoing support to process the trauma of grief and associated ongoing mental and physical issues.

Jacqueline (Jacci) Quinlivan
Jacqueline Quinlivan

Jacci lost her husband Lyndon, her best friend and children's father in May 2018 in a double workplace fatality and a further colleague suiciding as a result. Since that day, she promised her husband, she would fight until her last breath for justice, accountability and change to the system and its laws.

"Being a member of this committee provides me with one avenue, by way of a forum to assist SafeWork NSW by giving insight into the lived experiences by those who are directly affected and what needs to change.

I am being my husband's voice, I am speaking up for him, myself, our young children, and his family.

Elizabeth Ratcliff
Elizabeth Ratcliff

Elizabeth is an injured worker who worked in Construction and Safety and a Mates in Construction Connector.

"Being a member of the Family and Injured Worker Support Group gives me the opportunity to be part of improving the processes and awareness for not only the injured worker but the families who find themselves in the unfortunate situation of the death or injury of their loved one in the workplace."

Rachel Tanner
Rachel Tanner

"My husband and father to our three beautiful sons, Craig was killed in a workplace fatality.

"Being part of the FIWSG committee I hope to implement and improve practices for families and injured workers and to provide support for those whom never thought they would end up with the devastating and life-changing loss like we have."

Noeline Bridge
Noeline Bridge

Noeline's partner, Davern, was involved in a workplace incident in 2018. Tragically two lives were lost on the day and a third person was badly injured due to being exposed to toxic levels of Hydrogen Sulphide.

Davern took his own life, as a result of feeling responsible for sending them into the area, unaware of the fatal gas that had been released.

My primary motivation for being involved in the FIWSG is to raise awareness of how a traumatic incident affects the mental health of all workers at every level. And in my case resulting in a suicide.

Patrizia Cassaniti
Patrizia Cassaniti

Patrizia is an International award-winning work health and safety advocate with a compelling and confronting life story. In 2021, she won the Gold Stevie award as Maverick of the year, which recognizes the achievements of female individuals who have affected positive change on their companies and/or industries. Upon the times of COVID -19 lockdowns and online presentations, Patrizia became certified by e-speakers as a Virtual Presenter. 

She shares the crucial lessons everyone in construction, manufacturing and engineering need to hear to shift out complacency and create a safe working environment for themselves and all their work mates.

Her devastating story is of a tragedy that was never an accident, but an incident waiting to happen, all because of complacency that took her 18-year-old son’s life. 

Be prepared for an emotional and inspiring journey with this powerful and potentially life-saving session where the usual ‘she’ll be right mate’ or 'it won’t happen to me’ situation will make you evaluate your daily work practises and make your family the reason why you work safe every day.

She has had extensive coverage on the media, 60 minutes and Morning shows and has helped develop an App together with SafeWork NSW, that allows workers to speak up anonymously.

Her safety advocacy led her to complete a CERT IV in Work Health and Safety to educate herself, so she can reign new laws in her son’s honour, by bringing tougher penalties and greater consequences for unsafe work practices.  

Her foundation, Touched by Christopher Ltd, raises money to help families who have lost a loved one in construction, financially, so that they can grieve without the everyday burden.

Matt Beckhaus
Matt Beckhaus

"On the 10th of October 2015, our family world changed forever. We got a phone call that parents should never receive. Our 20-year-old son, Luke, was involved in a workplace incident during the early hours of the morning where he received multiple blunt force injuries after being crushed by the wheels of a “runaway” B-Double Trailer.   Later that morning, Luke lost his fight to live at Westmead Hospital.

"When I was asked to become a member of this group, I felt that this was my calling to make a difference and to help others that have experienced what my family has since our tragic loss of Luke. I am doing this as Luke’s legacy as no parent, husband, wife, brother or sister should have to farewell a loved one.

The Family and Injured Worker Support Group must and will make a difference to industry!

Dallas Adams

Director of DC Adams Group - Why Safety Matters presents his tragic but unique life experiences of a Mining and Tunnelling family. An advocate and advisor of the importance of safety, safety awareness, and maintaining a safety culture. A qualified Trainer and Assessor, Electrician, Operator and Mentor in Construction.

Dallas founded DC Adams Group - Why Safety Matters after losing his father to a workplace incident in 2017 on a major tunnelling project in Sydney and wanting to talk about his brother who also died from a mining accident in 2004.

He talks about the consequences a workplace incident can have on your family and how important it is to create a safe environment for workers.

Dallas describes both accidents in detail and what happened and how both incidents have impacted his life and the life of his family. The stages of grief and the importance of getting help.

Dallas has spent 26 years working in the mining and underground construction industry as an operator and as an industrial electrician, His passion for safety awareness and looking out for his mates have given him a positive outlook moving forward and his ability to share his experience as a learning tool for others has benefitted many people over the time presenting "Why Safety Matters".

"I believe I am very lucky to have worked in such a tough and dangerous industry for a long period of time and learnt some significant lessons along the way. There's a reason things happen and understanding the industry can help navigate your way to a very successful career in construction"

Heidi Rawson
Heidi Rawson, a member of the Family and Injured Worker Support Group

On the 23rd of October 2017, my younger brother, Reece Marchello, was tragically killed in a preventable workplace incident at the age of 27. After losing Reece, I took on the role of becoming the representative for our family and dealt with the relevant agencies including the Police, Coroner and Safework NSW throughout the many processes that followed. I cannot change what happened to my brother, but from our tragedy I have become passionate about promoting the importance of WH&S and the seriousness of complacency when you are responsible for other people's safety.

In addition to losing my brother, in March 2019, my husband sustained a workplace injury that has seen him unable to return to work. Since his accident I have gained a lot of experience surrounding worker's compensation and the toll a long-term recovery can take, not only on the injured worker but on their whole family. 

Through this group I hope to not only advocate for positive change within the workplace but also support others who have either sustained a workplace injury or suffered the indescribable pain of losing a loved one as we did. 

Tanja Limnios
Tanja Limnios, a member of the - Family and Injured Worker Support Group

Tanja Limnios, Director of Thinkahead is a registered psychologist with a master’s degree in Organisation Psychology. Tanja has worked extensively in stress and trauma, providing psychological interventions, psychological first aid and critical incident stress management services since the early 1990’s. Tanja has worked with thousands of injured workers and their families and has extensive experience in workers compensation and return to work initiatives.


Already making a difference

Several initiatives are already up and running since the group was formed in late 2020.

Customer Service Standard

The members of the group were consulted in the development of the SafeWork NSW Incident response and investigations Customer Service Standard which documents the incident investigation process as well as how the regulator communicates with all parties involved; be that employer, the injured worker, next of kin, fellow employees, police, coroner, insurer and others.

Online resources

The group also identified and helped develop resources for injured workers and families impacted by workplace incidents and death such as these included below.

two speech bubbles

Supporting your mental health

Dealing with the loss of a loved one or a life-changing injury is distressing. Grief is a natural response to loss and is expressed in many ways.  

Grief can leave you feeling sad, angry, anxious, shocked, regretful, overwhelmed, isolated, irritable or numb.  Don’t be afraid to ask for help, talk to a friend and family about how you are feeling.  These services can offer support and assistance:

 

Apprentices

Information and support programs

It can be confusing and stressful after a life-changing event. There are government support programs that may help. 

Document with numbered steps

The investigation process 

Information for businesses following a workplace incident

Get in touch

Contact the Family and injured worker support group if you’d like to learn more. 

(All fields are mandatory).

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