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  • Lawrence Machado
  • Canterbury Bankstown Express

 

Patrizia Cassaniti, ‘a mother of a mission’ after her son Christopher was in a construction site tragedy, said the media should have not disclosed his name before his family were informed.

Now a passionate speaker on stricter safety measures at work places, Mrs Cassaniti said people in the industry are scared to speak up about safety issues and that it should change.

Christopher Cassaniti, who had just celebrated his 18th birthday, was killed in a construction accident when a nine-storey scaffolding tower collapsed on top of him and a workmate, Khaled Wehbe, at a building site in Macquarie Park on April 1.

Fighting for justice for their son: Rob and Patrizia Cassaniti, at Bryan Brown Theatre, Bankstown. Picture: Lawrence Machado

Mrs Cassaniti was the headline speaker at the workplace safety awareness forum at Bryan Brown Theatre, Bankstown, on Thursday, saying she was “on a mother of a mission”.

The graphic video of the unfolding tragedy was screened before she spoke at the theatre.

“Laws (on safety at work places) should be changed immediately,” Mrs Cassaniti said.

“There should be an onus on the owners if something goes wrong.

“People should be able to speak up because the culture in the industry is that people are too scared to speak up. That’s why I want immediate action.”

Christopher Cassaniti (back in white), with Adriano, Patrizia, Michael and Rob.

The event was organised by Toplace, which was targeting Arabic-speaking staff in the construction industry, with the company’s general manager Larissa Mouawad saying many of the workers are not from English-speaking backgrounds.

Since the tragedy, Mrs Cassaniti has courageously taken on the role of pushing for better workplace safety laws and has begun a foundation, Touched By Christopher, to financially help families cope with bills and mortgages after losing a loved one in a workplace accident.

Mrs Cassanitisaid she was working with the government to develop an app where workers can send online images regarding any safety issues anonymously to those in charge.

Mrs Cassaniti, who ran the XPresso mobile cafe at the site where Christopher was killed, said it was distressing the media identified Christopher before she or her family knew.

Her son eldest Adriano, 19, heard about his brother’s death on the TV and then told his brother Michael, 16.

The work site where Christopher Cassaniti’s accident occurred. Picture: 9 News

“I was rushing back to tell them because I didn’t want them to know from the media,” Mrs Cassaniti told the Express.

“But Adriano called me and asked me if it was true as the picture of Christopher was on the TV.

“He then told his brother so both myself and my husband Rob were not there when they found out about Christopher.

“They are now internalising the tragedy and while we need the media to promote the issue of work safety and prevention of further deaths at work, the media should not have identified him or put his pictures before we could inform our family.

“I also had to rush to tell my parents before they heard it on the news because that would have killed my dad, who is in his seventies.

“Thank God my parents had not put the TV on at the time.”

Toplace GM Larissa Mouawad said many construction workers come from non-English speaking backgrounds. Picture: Lawrence Machado

 

Mrs Cassaniti, who lives in Castle Hill, said while it is heartbreaking for her and her family, she does not want Christopher’s death to be in vain.

“I would rather go into a corner, curl up and cry because I feel so much for my son,” Mrs Cassaniti said.

“But if I do that, Christopher will not have justice.

“I don’t want this to happen to anyone else because losing a child is the worst thing for a parent.

“I had the day off at the site on the day the accident happened, otherwise I also would have died there.

“I want to give other workers a voice and want everyone to be able to speak fearlessly about work safety issues.

“My younger son wanted to follow Christopher into the construction industry but now he won’t and he wants to join Adriano is his hip hop career.

“I am emotionally quite drained and I am not working but I want to get the message across as a mum who has experienced a loss at a work site.

“When you send your child to school or work, you expect them to return home.

“If Christopher had died in a road accident, I would be grieving differently.

“These accidents could have been prevented.”

The forum organisers Toplace Group has 3000 apartments under construction across Sydney, including Skyview in Castle Hill, Jolyn Place in Rosebery, Pemberton on the Park in Botany, East Square in Mascot, Astral Apartments in Granville and The Grand in Kellyville.

“Because a lot of our workers are from non-English speaking backgrounds, they find it difficult to understand or read about the safety,” Toplace GM Larissa Mouawad said.

“This is the first time safety brochures have been printed in Arabic for this reason.”

Mates in Construction, Foundation House, The Jonah Group and SafeWork supported the one-day forum. Rob Shehadie was the MC while fellow comedian Tahir also attended the forum.


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