Migrants encouraged to learn about their health and safety rights in Australian workplaces

A new campaign is hoping to assist workers from culturally diverse backgrounds to better understand their health and safety rights in the workplace by translating resources into 19 languages.

Sunny Duggal

Sunny Duggal was injured while working 15 years ago. Source: SBS

Sunny Dugal says he didn't even know what WorkSafe was when he injured himself while on the job as a transport contractor in Melbourne after only recently moving to Australia.

"l was waiting for the traffic lights to turn green and then I heard a bang," the 44-year-old told SBS News.

"I looked back and saw there was a tram that hit my car."

Parts of the accident, which took place 15 years ago, are still raw in his memory, including the permanent shoulder injury he sustained as a result of whiplash. 

But Mr Dugal, who moved to Australia from India and speaks Punjabi, says it was the fear of navigating a foreign system where he knew very little about workplace rights that he remembers as the most daunting. 

It's a fear WorkSafe Victoria is hoping to minimise, with the safety regulator launching a new campaign this week aimed at educating migrant and non-English speaking workers about their rights in the workplace.

Key safety messages will be available in 19 languages, including Punjabi, Greek and Hindi.

It is an initiative Victoria's workplace safety minister Ingrid Stitt says will help prevent workplace injuries.

"[We need] to make sure no matter what your background, no matter what your language, you are safe at work, and most importantly, that you come home at the end of every day to your family," she said. 

A funding allocation of $970,000 has been injected into the campaign, making it WorkSafe's largest investment for an initiative aimed at multicultural workers.

Resources will also be provided to employers to ensure they're doing what they can to educate workers about the law.

Sunny Duggal
Sunny Duggal is involved in the WorkSafe Victoria campaign. Source: SBS

Ms Stitt says the state government is also using the campaign to remind bosses of their legal requirements to keep employees safe, with 65 people dying as a result of workplace-related injury or disease in Victoria last year.

"Part of the key objectives of this campaign is to make sure that both employers and workers understand their obligations because we do want employers to make sure that their workforces are aware of the safety risks and the key things that need to be put into place to prevent workplace injury," she said. 

More than 280 workers have already contacted WorkSafe's interpreter service to seek health and safety advice in their own language this financial year.

For more information about the 'Workplace Safety Is Our Common Language' campaign, visit

3 min read
Published 23 March 2021 at 6:07pm
By Hashela Kumarawansa
Source: SBS