Worker safety heads the agenda at the Australian Sugar Milling Council’s biennial safety conference, starting in Mackay today.

ASMC has set the theme for this year’s conference as Living and Leading Safety – It Starts with You!

The organisation represents 16 sugar mills in Queensland and NSW that collectively account for around 90 per cent of Australia’s raw sugar production.

More than 100 delegates from mills and associated sugar industry organisations will attend the two-day event.

ASMC chair John Pratt said the title emphasised that safety in sugar workplaces was a shared responsibility.

“Sugar mills are dynamic and complex environments but if everyone takes personal responsibility for their safety behaviour, whether it be individually or as part of a team, we’re confident we can deliver wider industry results second to none,” Mr Pratt said.

“While our reported data demonstrate that sugar industry safety performance is improving, we still lag other industry sectors.”

The conference features leading psychotherapists Jackie Furey.

“Jackie’s keynote address on the second morning, ‘A Check-Up from the Neck Up!’ will relate the importance of healthy minds to healthy workplaces, while our day one line-up also includes trauma counsellor, Paul Spinks, and emergency decision making expert Dirk Maclean,” Mr Pratt said.

ASMC chief executive David Pietsch said the conference provided the first opportunity since 2018 for sugar industry participants to network with their industry peers and share safety innovations due to the cancellation of last year’s conference caused by the COVID-19 outbreak.

“The conference also allows ASMC to outline its key areas of focus including an ambitious trade and market access agenda and a vision for the revitalisation of the industry,” Mr Pietsch said.

Despite challenging weather conditions in 2020, Queensland’s sugarcane crop was up almost 1 million tonnes over the 2019 season with 29.33mt crushed by Queensland’s mills.

ASMC is seeking to grow sugar industry revenues from $2 billion to $3 billion by 2030.