Member for Eastern Victoria, Harriet Shing, has opened a memorial at Heyfield in Gippsland honouring all Victorian timber workers who died in workplace incidents.

Part-funded by a $65,000 State Government grant, the $120,000 memorial carries the names of 76 timber workers who have died in Victoria over more than 100 years.

Wellington Shire Council contributed $40,000 and the Heyfield community raised $15,000 for the project which features a sculpture by Melbourne artists Aaron Robinson and Holly Grace.

It is surrounded in a high-quality landscape, memorial plaques, interpretive panels and native trees common to the timber industry.

The memorial encourages reflection and will bring Victoria’s already tight-knit timber community closer together.

It is also a reminder of the potential dangers that people working in the bush face every day and the potential consequences when something goes wrong.

Paths connect the memorial to Heyfield’s adjacent International Walk, which recognises earl migrant settlers to the area and is near the Gippsland Plains Rail Trail, Heyfield Wetlands Centre and other tourist attractions.

Quotes attributable to the Member for Eastern Victoria, Harriet Shing

“This has been a real community project that has involved many of Heyfield families whose loved ones have been killed while working in timber and forestry.”

“This memorial is of enormous importance to the whole state; it commemorates people close to Heyfield’s community, and is also the only memorial of its kind for this industry’s workers in Victoria.”

“The memorial is a place to remember friends, family members and Victorian forestry workmates who have died on the job, but it’s also an incredibly powerful reminder of the risks and challenges faced every day by people working in the bush.”

“Forestry work is physically and mentally draining. It is often carried out in difficult terrain, in rough conditions and a long way from help if it’s needed.  It’s a hugely important industry and in many cases it’s a way of life that spans entire towns and generations, in this as in all other work, safety has to come first.”

“Workplace injuries and fatalities are tragic but even as we continue to take huge steps forward in workplace safety, we can’t afford to become complacent in the challenge to make and keep workers safe, nobody should die at work.”