This is a High-Vis country

Australia is a highly visible country. No, not in the way you are thinking with international profiles and a Home Affairs minister who had the guts to take on old Vlad. Nor in the riches that our Pilbarra region harbours in the red dirt. Neither in the majestic Opera house in Sydney.

No, we are a country clothed in either Fluoro Orange or Yellow. From the tradies to the trolley pushers and the engineer swatting the flies from his face in the field. This is a country where you WILL be seen, whether orange or yellow is your colour or not.

From what I can remember, back home, only the car guards wore the beastly fluoro vests. The labourers wore overalls that may have had fluoro stripes and the paramedics also had brightly coloured clothes. You will forgive me then, that I thought most of the people here in Australia were labourers! (I had enough common sense left to know that the need for car guards had disappeared the moment we stepped off than plane.)

Until I saw the PPE my hubby was given. And so began my initiation into the safety culture of Australia. The boots had to have steel points. Why, when he would be walking on a slimes dam? He had to wear his hard hat whenever out in the open at the mine sites that he visited. Why when out in the open, under the clear blue skies with no construction site in sight and the only thing that could hit your head was a disoriented bird?

We lived in Kalgoorlie for four years and there the sound of a quacking duck (or was that in Esperance?) had you looking for a duck and her ducklings, until you remembered that the ducks were swimming at Hammond Park and it is actually the neighbour reversing his ute (bakkie) to go to work. Or the ever present peep-peep-peep that most of the vehicles make.

I did some research to find out whether fluorescent clothing always had such noble intentions. No, it was not NASA who invented this nifty colour that now decorate the country far and wide, it was Bob Switzer, an amateur magician, who unloaded some crates on a railroad when he was presumably struck on the head and landed in hospital in an induced coma. (High-vis clothing would have been no help at all!) Upon awakening he was kept in the dark, quite literally and passed his time playing with fluorescent materials. You see, it pays to play because play is often the precursor for imagination and from imaginations possibility come.

Dear Migrant on your way to the Great South land,

Prepare yourself for a sea of orange and yellow fluoro when you arrive. Some find the safety precautions that the folk here take, tedious and the red tape frustrating. But I see it as a symbol of how highly they regard the life of another human.

Girls, should you get a job where you are dressed in yellow and blue, take heart, the blue is usually at your neck, and most of us look good in navy/cobalt blue. And a bit of red lippy will do wonders to take the attention away from the glare.

Don’t worry, you will be part of the visible masses and as a result people will not notice your high visibility, except when you want it most.

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