Government refuses to release report on work for the dole death

Josh Park-Fing and his mother Jenny Fing
By Tara Miko: The Chronicle

A national campaign pressuring the Federal Government to release a report into the death of a Toowoomba teenager is gaining momentum.

Josh Park-Fing, 18, died when he fell from a flatbed tractor trailer and struck his head while engaged in a Work for the Dole program at the Toowoomba Showgrounds on April 19 last year.

Contracted by workplace employer NEATO, Mr Park-Fing died in Toowoomba Hospital of critical head injuries and the government investigated the circumstances surrounding his fall and death.

But the Federal Government has failed to release the report, with the Australian Unemployed Workers Union launching a petition and protest event to see the results made public.

Union president Owen Bennett has called on Federal Employment Minister Michaelia Cash to release the report which he said was in the public’s interest.

“Minister for Employment Michaelia Cash indicated that an investigation would be carried out into the tragedy and report would be released within a month,” he wrote on the petition.

“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 AUWU made a (Freedom of Information) 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.”

Mr Bennett claimed withholding “this crucial information” was a cover-up of the teen’s death and the dangers of the Work for the Dole program.

“This is a national disgrace,” Mr Bennett wrote.

“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 organised a grassroots “phone bank” event encouraging people to inundate the minister’s office will calls to release the report.

The petition, started yesterday morning, has received more than 430 signatures.

A spokesperson for the minister’s office told BuzzFeed News the matter was still being investigated by Workplace Health and Safety Queensland.

“It would be inappropriate for the department to release the report or put matters on the public record before Workplace Health and Safety Queensland has completed its investigation,” the spokesperson said.

The ALP and the Greens have also back calls for the report to be released.







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