WorkSafe Victoria, the media and going to court

This guidance is for people affected by a work related injury or death of a family member. The following information explains WorkSafe's media alerts about court cases and helps you to better deal with the media outside court.

Date last updated

Thursday 04 Jun 2020

WorkSafe media alerts

WorkSafe media alerts inform the media about court cases 1 or 2 days before they are heard. The media alert outlines the criminal charges and general circumstances of the matter.

After the case, WorkSafe may issue another media alert detailing the outcome of the court appearance and a safety message concerning the particular matter. This will include information about the person involved, for example, a 45-year-old plumber from Benalla.

WorkSafe will not:

  • issue any media release about your family member without talking to you first
    • release your contact details or other information about you without your consent.

      The media

      In most circumstances, court proceedings in Victoria are open to the public. This means that journalists can sit in court, take notes about what is happening and report on it.

      Photographers and TV crews cannot film or take photographs inside court buildings, but they can film people as they arrive or leave. If you do not want to go outside while cameras are there you can wait in the court building.

      Media organisations can find the name of your family member, if the name is mentioned in court, even if it is not released by WorkSafe.

      Reporters might approach you at court to see if you would like to speak about your family member. If you're not interested in talking to them, say so and refer them to WorkSafe for comment.

      Sometimes a WorkSafe representative will state what has happened in court and may give a specific safety message, targeting similar industries.

      Support in Court

      WorkSafe's Family Liaison Officer (FLO) is available to provide you with support if you wish to attend court. The FLO is the liaison point between you and the WorkSafe investigation and legal team. They will attend court with you and can assist you with information, referral and support throughout the legal process. If you would like to speak to the FLO you can phone them on 1800 136 089.

      Deciding to make a comment to media outside the court

      If you speak to the media, then Worksafe's FLO is available to help. You may have a family spokesperson comment.

      Write notes to clarify what you want to say at court.

      When responding to questions, short sentences are best. Repeating the question back to the media helps you avoid yes/no answers.

      If you speak to the media, prepare other family members so they are not surprised by an unexpected appearance or comment. If at the last moment you decide to give a statement, notifying other family members or friends is often worthwhile.

      Questions you may be asked by the media:

      • What do you think of the result today?
        • Why is it important for you to be here?
          • Can you tell us about your loved one’?
            • What sort of person were they?
              • What interest did they have?
                • How has this incident affected your life?
                  • Where does this incident leave you?
                    • What would you say to other employers and workers in this industry or occupation?
                      • Is there anything else you’d like to say?

                        There might be follow-up background questions about you and your loved one such as:

                        • How old are you?
                          • When is your birthday?
                            • Where do you live?
                              • Are you in a relationship?
                                • How long has/had your family member been employed at their workplace?

                                  Photos and treasures

                                  A picture or video of your loved one is a powerful reminder that the case has been about a real person. They help tell your story. A picture or video can be provided to the media, through the FLO even if you don't want to make a statement

                                  Journalists can apply to the court to get access to material from the brief of evidence. WorkSafe generally ask the court not to release images of your family member at the incident site.

                                  Deciding not to speak with the media

                                  There is a public place outside the court where you can be photographed or filmed. If you don't want to speak to the media just keep walking.

                                  Although you may feel frustrated or angry with the media, try to remain calm. Give a clear message that you will not engage.

                                  If you don't want to make a comment, a brief word letting reporters know this may be enough to stop the media from following you.

                                  If you are listed in the telephone directory or have a Facebook or other social media account, media representatives may try to contact you. In most cases WorkSafe is not able to speak to the media on your behalf.

                                  Media coverage

                                  Media coverage can begin within minutes via social media like Facebook, radio and the web. TV news is in the evening and newspapers follow the next day. Weekly local newspapers often have coverage from WorkSafe's media release which will be posted at worksafe.vic.gov.au.

                                  Support after going to court

                                  People have varied reactions after giving statements or interviews to the media. You may feel empowered or that you are standing up for your family member by making a public statement. Sometimes people can feel exposed or disappointed in by the coverage or reports.

                                  If you need support after you have been to court, or if you have any questions about what happened on the day please contact WorkSafe's FLO. If you require urgent counselling please contact Lifeline on 13 11 14, in an emergency please call 000.

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