Artists rethink safety vests to help fight transport worker abuse in new campaign

Hi-vis Humanity courtesy of Clemenger BBDOIn recent years, Victoria has seen an increase in verbal abuse of its frontline workers. At the same time, psychologists have proven that we treat other people better once we know more about them.

To raise awareness for the issue of transport worker abuse and to help reduce it, Australian textile artists were commissioned to bring transport workers’ personal stories to life through artwork embroidered onto their safety vests.

The project, Hi-vis Humanity aims to help protect workers, by asking passengers to see the people behind the uniforms. The vests featured in the campaign reflect the personal stories of four transport workers – a refugee, gold medalist, domestic violence survivor and father of young children.

The highly personalised, reflective safety vests were crafted by renowned Australian textile artists Kait James, Sharon Peoples, Ruth De Vos and Susie Vickery.

The artists used reflective thread and fabric to maintain the existing safety attributes of the workers’ hi-vis vests – while large reflective panels on the back of the vests also feature the workers’ written stories.

“It’s not often that we look beyond the person performing a service, however it’s something we need to do more of,” said artist Susie Vickery. “Noting how fascinated she was with the workers’ stories and bringing them to life through embroidery.

The vests will be displayed across Victoria’s public transport network through outdoor advertising around public transport stations and stops while films online and on social media will expand upon the workers’ stories.

“We all know taking out our frustrations on others is not okay and this campaign highlights that our frontline staff are hardworking people that deserve our respect,” said a DTP Spokesperson.

“This is one way we can support our public transport staff and we hope these vests send a powerful and memorable message that everyone deserves to feel safe at work.

Image: Hi-vis Humanity – a project designed to protect workers by asking passengers to see the people behind the uniforms – courtesy of Clemenger BBDO