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Fifty years after the collapse of Melbourne's West Gate Bridge that took with it the lives of thirty-five workers, their families and the survivors share their stories of the tragedy.
At 11:50am on the 15th of October 1970 the worst industrial disaster in Australia's history occurred on the construction site of the West Gate Bridge in Melbourne. Thirty-five construction workers were killed and eighteen were seriously injured when a section of the bridge, over 100 metres in length, collapsed and fell over fifty metres. Men working on top of the bridge fell to their deaths. Men working below were crushed.
Following the disaster the then Victorian Premier Sir Henry Bolte announced a Royal Commission into the cause of the accident. The report found that the collapse of the bridge was due to a design flaw and inappropriate building methods. It concluded:
The disaster which occurred and the tragedy of 35 deaths was utterly unnecessary… The reasons for the collapse are to be found in the acts and omissions of those entrusted with building a bridge of a new and highly sophisticated design. (Royal Commission Report)
West Gate Bridge Disaster is a powerfully affecting documentary about this disaster, its legacy and its memory told through the stories of survivors and families. The film educates its audience in the profound roles played by the working class and migrant communities in the building of modern Australia. It also castes a spotlight on the integral values of workplace safety and workers' rights in Australian workplace standards hard earned in this country which must never be compromised.
West Gate Bridge Disaster is the story of an important and avoidable tragedy in our national history – the worst industrial disaster in Australian history. It is also the story of the legacy of this tragedy – of how it lives on in the hearts of loved ones left behind.
ATOM has also produced a study guide for West Gate Bridge: The Untold Stories. This study guide is available for download here.
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