This week, we had the opportunity to interview Tommy Watson who was a witness to the Westgate bridge collapse. This was, to say the least, a very humbling experience as Tommy provides first-hand insight into what the immediate aftermath of the collapse was like as well as the long – reaching effect it has had on witnesses and survivors. Tommy does not class himself as a survivor because he was not physically impacted by the actual span falling, but he was there for much of the aftermath and has been active in union activism both prior to and following the collapse.
Each of us in the group asked questions as we were all curious about Tommy’s experience, but I did take on most of the interviewing which I was very glad to do. In many ways, Tommy was quite easy to interview because he has a lot to say – not only about his own experiences, but he also spoke a little about what it was like for the victim’s and survivor’s families afterwards and the lack of support they received. Tommy is also a great interviewee because he has been interviewed before and is familiar with the format, so he was quite comfortable answering questions from the start.
The research I had done prior to the interviewee really helped out the flow of the interview because as soon as we got fast the preliminary questions about Tommy’s background, we could move on to more specific areas. One thing that I really appreciated from this experience was in Tommy telling us that he finds the discussions about the actual mechanics of the collapse quite overdone in the media and sees that there hasn’t been enough focus on the social impact the collapse had on workers and families. In the video below which Tommy features in, you can see how there is a lot of discussion about the details of how it fell. I think this is a great insight for us moving forward because it can inform what this project is really about – that often overlooked impact upon the community.
I think this also better represents working within the open – space concept because it reflects the focus on being engaged with social issues that this concept promotes. This insight from Tommy will be something to think about moving forward in the editing stage.
Old Treasury Building, 2013, West Gate Bridge Collapse: 40 Years On, video, Youtube, viewed September 17 2018 <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=li8SLxytnzA&t=402s>