More than three years after four people tragically lost their lives on the Thunder River Rapids Ride at Dreamworld on the Gold Coast, charges have been laid against Ardent Leisure Limited by the independent Work Health and Safety Prosecutor, Aaron Guilfoyle. The company has been charged with three offences under section 32 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011, for failing to comply with its health and safety duty under the Act and exposing individuals to a risk of serious injury or death.
In a media statement, Ardent Leisure, owner and operator of Dreamworld, acknowledged the three charges filed against it, which allege that the company failed to comply with its primary safety duty under section 19(2) of the Act. “First and foremost, we again express our deepest sympathies to the families and friends of Roozbeh Araghi, Luke Dorsett, Kate Goodchild and Cindy Low for their loss and ongoing suffering and say sorry to all of the people impacted by this tragedy,” the statement read.
It is alleged that Ardent Leisure failed to ensure, so far as reasonably practicable, the provision and maintenance of safe plant and structures, and of safe systems of work. Ardent Leisure also allegedly failed to provide necessary information, training, instruction or supervision to protect all persons from risks to their health and safety, arising from work carried out as part of the conduct of the business. The company faces a maximum penalty of a $4.5 million fine, with each charge carrying a maximum penalty of a $1.5 million fine. Guilfoyle stated that he does not plan to lay any further charges in the matter.
In its statement, Ardent Leisure described the “substantive and proactive steps” it had taken to improve safety across Dreamworld, as it continues to enhance existing systems and practices and adopt new ones. The company plans to develop and implement safety across the entire park in accordance with the Queensland Government’s new major amusement park safety regulations. “The new leadership team is committed to continuing to improve and enhance safety systems and practices with the aim of becoming a global industry leader in theme park safety and operations,” the statement read.
The Office of Industrial Relations referred a brief of evidence to the Prosecutor after Coroner James MacDougall released his findings in February 2020, following an inquest into the tragedy. The charges against Ardent Leisure were scheduled to be mentioned in the Southport Magistrates Court on Wednesday, 29 July 2020.
Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/Jason