For the first time since the Goldfields Miners Memorial Wall started there will be no deaths unveiled at the annual service. The only thing that will be uncovered at the ceremony, starting at 9.30 at the Museum of the Goldfields in upper Hannan Street, will be the year “2017”.
Memorial Chairman, John Bowler, said this was the aim and the hope of the committee to never have to unveil a name at the ceremony.
“The wall now serves two purposes,” he said. “Firstly as a place of reflection and remembrance for the families and loved ones of those who have lost their lives tragically in the last 125 years. More recently, as illustrated by this year, the wall now highlights how much safer the mining industry in this region has become.”
The wall, which now has 1488 names, covers accidental deaths from Wiluna to Esperance.
Mr Bowler says he was particularly delighted that the Minister for Mines and Petroleum, Bill Johnston, will be tomorrow morning’s special guest.
The annual unveiling is always held on the Labour Day long weekend because of its strong links to the mining and union industry which historically fought for safer working conditions in the mines.
Last year’s zero deaths is a far cry from that of 1899 when 44 miners were accidentally killed in the region, the most in any one year.
However the previous 12 months is not alone in being a fatality-free year. That also happening in 1994, 1999 and then from 2011 – 13. Mr Bowler said a cursory glance at both sides of the wall demonstrated the vast improvements in mine safety, especially the last two decades.
For the first time, the Salvation Army will conduct the annual service. Members of the public are urged to attend the service, with family and friends encouraged to place sprigs of Rosemary against the names of their loved ones on the wall.