Transport workers are people too


Transport workers are people too

Most of us understand that abusing transport workers is unacceptable, but at times, some people think it's okay to disrespect them and blame them for things that are largely out of their control, such as disruptions and delays.

Transport workers are people too. Please respect them.

See the person behind the uniform

Psychologists have proven that once you know someone, you treat them with more respect. So for transport workers Kim, Harpreet, Ninah and Dennis, we put their life story onto their safety vests. Take a moment to see the person behind the uniform.

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"My story has layers. Last year I lost my partner. It has been a long journey, but it has caused me to have a completely different outlook on life." Kim, Tram Driver

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"After two years of relentless training, my sister helped me win my very first district fencing tournament at ten years old. I went on to compete all over the world." Harpreet, Bus Driver

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"Whenever we have a free weekend we go bush, get away from it all. It’s a different kind of chaotic, sure. But it’s with family. Those kinds of memories, they’re irreplaceable." Dennis, Services Officer

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"I was only four when my mother and sister had to leave the Republic of the Congo. There was so much conflict there, I remember being so scared…" Ninah, Authorised Officer

Your actions have impact

Insults and abuse like eye rolling, sneering, talking down to or raising your voice at workers happen too often and can be hard to forget. It could have a major impact on their mental health. If you find yourself getting overheated, remove yourself from the situation until you calm down.

Creating the safety vests

There is no armour against words, but we can disarm people from being disrespectful or rude to begin with through empathy and connection.

Using a garment naturally designed to protect people as they work, we turned high-vis vests into a canvas showing the personal stories of four of our transport workers. These 'safety vests' allow people to see the humanity first, and the job second.

Four artists brought the four vests to life.

Meet the artists behind the vests

A portrait image of Sharon Peoples

Sharon Peoples

A Melbourne based artist, who creates machine and freehand embroidery.

"The inspiration for this work was the Bayeux Tapestry, an embroidery that documents and narrates a war and the journey that those fighting took. The war-like conditions that Ninah and her family left, travelling across various countries and by boat must have created such stories that the family may still repeat and form a narrative of their lives. While the Bayeux Tapestry celebrated a victory, I wanted to celebrate the strength and resilience of her family.

It was a conquest. I constantly thought of Ninah’s long and arduous journey, which contrasts with the short relatively easy journey that urban workers make on various forms of transport between home and work."


Portrait image of Kait James, with yellow light projected onto her face.

Kait James

Proud Wadawurrung woman and award-winning contemporary artist based in Melbourne.

"It has been my absolute honour to create this piece for Kim. She is one of those rare special people, a humble warrior who gives more than they receive, without wanting or expecting anything in return.

I was really touched by Kim’s story and inspired by her positive outlook on life. Despite enduring so much, Kim is a survivor that radiates love for others, her positivity and kindness are truly inspirational.

When designing and making the vest, I focused on the spontaneous drives Kim used to take with her partner. This made me reflect on the journeys we all take throughout our lives and how just being together is what is most important, rather than the destination.

I also wanted to celebrate Kim, to give something back to her, for Kim to know her story has been heard and she has inspired me to pay it forward in my own life. Nyatne Kim, gobata, which means thank you and take care in Wadawurrung language."

Portrait image of Ruth De Vos, drawing in a notebook, sitting at a table which has pencils and watercolour paint on it.

Ruth de Vos

An artist, illustrator and quilt maker from Perth.

"This vest incorporates my signature piecework process of hand-stitching together hundreds of tiny bits of fabric, like a fabric jigsaw puzzle. Many of the fabrics are hand-dyed. The vest has also been hand-painted, and the layers stitched together with the sewing machine.

I loved Dennis’s stories about camping trips. As a mother of six, I know how good it is to go camping together! I especially loved that Dennis and his family have a ‘craziest camper award - how fun!

In my design, I focussed one side of the vest on the challenge of juggling work and a busy family life, while the other side was used to focus on the joy of weekend camping getaways."


An image of Susie Vickery at a table, with a partially completed cross stitch on the table in front of her.

Susie Vickery

Australian embroidery artist with a focus on storytelling.

"In my embroideries, I tell stories of people’s lives, of historical events, and stories that I have created. Harpreet’s story fascinated me because we often don’t look beyond the person performing a service. We see a bus driver and can’t even begin to imagine that person as a champion fencer, travelling the world to compete.

I approached this artwork wanting to tell Harpreet’s story episodically, like a graphic book. Each frame would tell another episode in his life, using quotes from his interview. I drew different fencing figures, trying out different sizes and positions.

I wanted to show Harpreet’s progress from a young lad to a champion fencer, so the figures became gradually larger and the fencing positions more assertive. To show his travels around India and to Asia and Europe I also appliquéd a map onto the vest."