about us

Rachel Blee

ACNC Registered Charity
Rachel Blee is the widowed partner of Jason Blee, who was fatally injured in an underground mining accident at Moranbah North on April 9 2007.  Rachel is the mother of four children and is dedicated to improving mine safety.  She has played an integral part in establishing A Miner’s Legacy and continues to tell her story to those in the mining industry, in the hope it can improve safety and save lives.

At 10 past 10 on the morning of the 9th April 2007 my life, along with the life of our four children, changed forever. This was the day my husband Jason was fatally injured in an underground mine accident at Moranbah North. It was Easter Monday.

Jason’s tragic accident happened 140 metres underground in the Board and Pillar section of the mine where he was pinned between a shuttle car and the rib. I didn’t know anything about Jason’s accident until 2.30pm when I had two police officers at the front gate. Something was really wrong. They didn’t have to speak, their faces said it all.

Jason and I had four children, who were home with me when I was told of their father’s tragic news. “Mummy Mummy, what’s wrong?” our eldest daughter asked. I grabbed her and just hugged her with tears streaming down my face. How was I going to tell our beautiful children their Daddy wasn’t coming home?  I often wonder how our lives would have been so different or what path we would have taken if Jason hadn’t been tragically killed that day.

I feel we need to band together within the Queensland Mining community to offer a support system when a miner is seriously injured or death has occurred. I know when we lost Jason, such a service would have benefit myself and our children to cope with such a significant loss.

We must all continue to work together to minimise the risk and ensure all our mine workers return home safely to their families at the end of every shift.

Tarin and Mikeely Blee

Jason and Rachel Blee

Tahlia and Alanna Blee

Joanne Ufer

Joanne Ufer lost her son Joshua, in the Pike River Mine disaster in New Zealand on the 19th November, 2010.  Joanne is passionate about ensuring families have a support system in the event of any future fatality or fatalities in the mining industry but believes strongly that lives can be saved if safety is made the number one priority by all mining companies.

It was a Friday afternoon, the end of my working week.  My clearest memory of that day was leaving work with a smile on my face looking forward to the weekend ahead.  I was only home for a short time when text messages and phone calls started coming through.   There had been an explosion at Pike River in New Zealand and Joshua, my son, was unaccounted for.   He had left to work in New Zealand in May to try something new, but was in the midst of making arrangements to come home.  His homecoming was five weeks too late.  My world fell apart that day and will never be the same again.   My partner Kevin, my daughter Kymberley and I made the harrowing journey to New Zealand the next day.  We struggled by in an overseas country where we knew few people, meeting after meeting, waiting and hoping Joshua and the other 28 men would be rescued.  But there was to be no rescue, a second explosion five days later sealed the fate of 29 sons, husbands and fathers.

Joshua’s father Karl and I had lost our only son, his sister lost her only sibling, his pregnant partner Rachelle was now facing giving birth and raising their child on her own.   Since that day we have had to deal with Coronial Inquests, a Royal Commission of Inquiry and evidence that has constantly brought tears to our eyes.   Countless safety issues, faulty mine designs along with managerial problems have been highlighted over the past 15 months.  Not a day goes by when I don’t think of Joshua and how things should be.  He should be here celebrating life with his family and his daughter Erika, who was born six months after his death.   Instead we all wait for his body to be recovered and returned home to Queensland so we can say a proper and fitting farewell to a wonderful young man loved dearly by all his family and friends.

I would hate to think any other family would have to deal with such a tragedy but if so the support available through A Miner’s Legacy will be invaluable.  Everyone has the right to work in a safe workplace and make it home safely at the end of their shift.  That should be the number one priority in everyone’s day and we all need to work together to ensure it happens.

Mark Parcell:  Director – Mine Safety Institute of Australia

No one deserves to be injured at work. Nothing is more important than ensuring the well being of the people in our industry. Until we get this philosophy right, we will continue to have incidents at our mines.  Sadly, some of these will be fatal. 

I am the son of an Ipswich coal miner. My earliest childhood memories are of Christmas parties at the Booval Mines Rescue Station. They are particularly memorable for the joy they brought as I ate as much ice cream as I could. As a young child I would watch the pretty birds at the station, not realising they were the canaries that protected my father’s life whilst mining. Almost four decades later – as a father myself and a mining safety consultant – I am aware that the canaries have been replaced by sophisticated gas monitoring systems; but the joy of a child, at a Christmas party, should always be the same.

The challenge for us all to ensure the safety of mine persons remains far more valuable than the minerals that come from the mine. Sadly, the safety of persons at mines is not always adequately protected. The loss and suffering caused by a fatal mining accident is something no person should have to endure. Whilst the fatality rate has improved in over a century of mining in Australia and we, arguabl,y have the best mine safety performance in the world, these statistics are cold comfort to the families of persons who tragically suffer such fatal injuries.

As well as working to improve mine safety through the Mine Safety Institute of Australia, and aiming to achieve the goal of zero harm, we must not forget the families and friends of those who die at mines. In this resolve we have established this foundation, A Miner’s Legacy, to assist the family and friends of these workers to ensure their grief is minimised and appropriate assistance is available. Whilst we have learnt many lessons over the decades about improving mine safety, we have also learnt the care and support of persons in their time of need is paramount. We would like to think no one will ever require our assistance; sadly it will be inevitable. We are ready to assist. You will not be alone.