Snedden Hall & Gallop was involved in representing a member of the family of two of the young people who lost their lives as the result of the tragic accident at Dreamworld Theme Park at Coomera in Queensland on 25 October 2016. The Coronial Inquiry extended over many weeks and the Coroner handed down his findings on 24 February 2020. Richard Faulks explains those findings in this article.

The accident

The tragic death of the young people involved in this accident has had a profound and permanent impact on family members and the thorough investigation carried out has made it clear that there were significant shortcomings on the part of those controlling the theme park. If proper steps had been taken by those in authority, it is likely that the incident would not have accured.

The deaths arose because of the complete failure of the operation of the Thunder River Rapids Ride. The ride’s rafts were meant to travel through a watercourse but, on this occasion, two of the rafts collided. The collision caused fatal injuries to those involved.

Evidence and findings

The Coroner received extensive evidence from those involved with Dreamworld, as well as experts, including engineers. The Coroner’s findings amount to some 274 pages and he found a failure on a number of levels. This includes the need for changes to Queensland’s regulatory framework with respect to the inspection and licensing of amusement parks. He also found that the owner of an amusement device must comply with applicable and updated Australian standards, something that had not occurred in this situation.

Risk assessments

The Coroner found that annual risk assessments should be conducted by competent people to ensure all control systems are properly functioning. There should also be steps taken to ensure the competency of those charged with operating the amusement device.

He also found that regular auditing and oversight of such devices should be undertaken by the regulators. There were also other recommendations made concerning regulation of the industry.

Workplace law contraventions

The Coroner found that there was adequate evidence that those in charge of the operator of the fun park may have committed an offence under workplace laws and there has been a referral to the regulator for consideration of further action.

Significance of these findings

This case shows that, although there are some inherent risks involved in using amusement devices at places like Dreamworld, it is essential that those operating such amusement parks take all reasonable and necessary steps to minimise risk and ensure the safety of patrons. If reasonable steps are not taken, as occurred in this case, tragic results can occur.

How can we help?

If you have been in involved in an accident where you think you may be entitled to compensation, please contact our Personal Injury team on 02 6285 8000 or by email.

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