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Family still wait for answers a year after son’s death

Josh Park-Fing who was killed on the Work for the Dole scheme in 2016. Photo Supplied. Story Anna Patty Photo: Supplied

On the one-year anniversary of 18-year-old son Joshua Park-Fing’s death, his parents are still waiting for answers to how it happened on a Work for the Dole site.

Josh died on April 19 last year after falling from a flatbed trailer towed by a tractor on a Work for the Dole site in Toowoomba.

His father, Iain Park, told Fairfax Media he has been struggling to come to terms with his son’s death and hopes that safety lessons can be learned to help prevent the same thing from happening again.

“At the end of the day, I would just like the answers and the truth and God willing, it will lead to it never happening again,” Mr Park said.

The Unemployed Workers Union, which has been campaigning for the Work for the Dole program to be scrapped, has written to the federal government asking it to release the results of investigations into Mr Park-Fing’s death.

“For the sake of Josh’s family and all participants in the Work for the Dole program, we call on the government to promptly release this information,” the UWU letter said.

“The government has a responsibility to minimise risks to participants in this and other employment programs.”

Josh left behind his parents, a twin brother Jayden, two other brothers Matthew and Lachlyn and a sister Jemma.

“I never had a chance to see my 18-year-old boy grow up and get married and have kids,” Mr Park said.

He said he still has no answers from an investigation into Josh’s death.

“At the end of the day we just need the truth,” he said. “I’m still baffled about why this happened. I can’t figure out why the report has been withheld.

“The bottom line is we all deserve answers. If we don’t get the correct answers how do we know what needs to change and how to change it?”

Mr Park hopes the investigation into his son’s death helps to improve the safety of other Work for the Dole participants.

“Dreamworld changed its policies after there was an accident – why didn’t that happened when Josh died?” he said.

Speaking on behalf of Josh’s mother, Jenny Fing, Maurice Blackburn Lawyers principal Peter Koutsoukis said he was still waiting for answers.

“Sadly a year after the tragic death of her son Joshua, our client is still no closer to having any answers as to what caused his death,” Mr Koutsoukis said.

“Mrs Fing rightfully expected a timely investigation would have been undertaken into this matter.

“Disappointingly, however, that has not occurred, despite our repeated requests for information on the investigation on her behalf. This includes recently writing to the federal Minister for Employment, Michaelia Cash.

“On this first anniversary of Joshua’s death, we again call on the relevant agencies to release the findings of this investigation as soon as possible, to provide much-needed closure for Mr Park-Fing’s family and to help ensure that lessons can be learned as to what caused his death and to prevent future incidents.”

Federal Labor spokesman for employment services and workforce participation Ed Husic said the Turnbull government needed to release its internal review into the incident, or at least explain to the public what it has done to improve workplace safety in the program.

“Under the Turnbull government Work for the Dole is failing, with 90 per cent of participants not securing full-time work after finishing the program. At a time when youth unemployment is at record highs, young ns deserve better,” Mr Husic said.

Senator Cash said the investigation into Mr Park-Fing’s death was ongoing.

“Workplace Health and Safety Queensland continues to investigate this incident,” she Cash said.

“The government will not risk compromising this investigation by releasing the report prematurely.

“Given that the Labor Party is aware of this situation, I would be deeply concerned if it was attempting to politicise the tragic death of Mr Park-Fing.”

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