Grieving woman’s battle for justice after partner’s workplace death

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A young Perth woman has bravely opened up about her heartbreaking battle for justice after the work place death of her partner.

Now she’s fighting for changes to our laws fearing WA’s new mining boom could cost more lives.

Christiana Paterson and her partner Chris Patrick were living and working in Karratha in 2014.

“He was a carpenter, he was an engineer, he could speak French, he renovated a house in France,” Ms Paterson told 9NEWS.

“He was just this incredible, amazing, funny person who really loved me and I really loved him and we were happy and looking at starting a family.

“Life was just nice.”

Chris Patrick (left) was killed in a workplace accident. His partner Christiana Paterson is now fighting for justice.

Chris Patrick (left) was killed in a workplace accident. His partner Christiana Paterson is now fighting for justice.

But the then-25-year-old’s world collapsed when police told her that Mr Patrick had been killed while working on a construction site at Gap Ridge.

She says she didn’t see the WorkSafe report for two years.

“It hasn’t been made clear how it happened but ultimately the grader driver reversed over Chris,” Ms Paterson said.

WA’s mining companies are hiring again.

Salaries in the Pilbara have increased from an average of $101,000 to $136,000 in the last 12 months.

Big mining companies are gearing up to spend $25 billion over the next five years and many families are expected to follow the money.

"Life was just nice," Ms Paterson says of life with Mr Patrick.

"Life was just nice," Ms Paterson says of life with Mr Patrick.

Ms Paterson fears the new boom could end in tragedy for some families.

“People who are in the prime of their life, with young families, young wives trying to get ahead. It’s these people who are getting killed and having to pay for it,” she said.

She’s joining other loved ones left behind to push for industrial manslaughter laws which are being considered by a Senate inquiry.

That legislation could make individuals criminally responsible if something goes wrong.

She says there also needs to be “more support for people who’ve gone through what I’ve gone through, more preventative measures and I think there needs to be more funding for WorkSafe”.

Ms Paterson is pushing for industrial manslaughter laws.

Ms Paterson is pushing for industrial manslaughter laws.

For the last four years, all the primary school teacher has been able to do is fight the three companies involved in the accident in civil court.

“I think they sent flowers to the funeral, as far as I’m aware I haven’t heard anything else from the company in control of the site that day,” Ms Paterson said.

She’s now moved back to Perth and is trying to get on with a life she never wanted to imagine.

“I spoke to someone not long after and I said I just don’t have that spark anymore,” Ms Paterson said.

“I used to have this spark and zest for life. She said ‘is it anywhere there?’ and I said ‘no, it’s just darkness’.

“I said to myself after it happened, I just want to make Chris proud and I just want to keep on trying, pushing through and I’m hoping that one day things will get easier.” 

© Nine Digital Pty Ltd 2018

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