Artists rethink safety vests to help fight transport worker abuse via Clemenger BBDO

12 October 2023

Creative Agency: Clemenger BBDO

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Asking passengers to see the people behind the uniforms.

In recent years, Victoria has seen an increase in verbal abuse of its frontline workers. At the same time, psychologists have proven that people treat other people better once they know more about them.

So, 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 personalised, reflective safety vests were crafted by 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.

Vickery said it’s not often that people look beyond the person performing a service.

'However, it’s something we need to do more of," she said.  

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.

Clemenger BBDO ECD, Tristan Graham, said once people hear these personal and powerful stories from public transport workers, they can’t help but view them differently.

"Even for those of us working on the campaign, the impact was instant and profound. I can’t wait to see the positive change the vests have in the real world," said Graham.



Client: Department of Transport & Planning

Agency: Clemenger BBDO

Chief Creative Officer: Jim Curtis 

Executive Creative Director: Tristan Graham 

Group Creative Director: Ant Phillips

National Traffic Manager: Karen Kushinsky

Art Director: Zoe Perrin

Copywriter: Riana McKenzie

Craft Designer: Ant Yee

Senior Producer: Lisa Moro

Managing Director: Julian Bell

Strategy Partner: Mike Ronkoske

Group Business Director: Ben Peachell

Senior Business Manager: Elyse Paone

Artists (vest creation):

  • Kait James
  • Sharon Peoples 
  • Ruth de Vos
  • Susie Vickery

Production Company: Clemenger Studios

DOP: Hossein Khodabandehloo bin Abolfazl

B Camera Operator: Lewis Rodan

Production Producer: Elizabeth Rocka

Editor: Andrew Packer

Editor: Sam Coates

Sound Engineer: Robbie Balatincz

Photographer: Ryan Wheatley

Retoucher: Gabrielle Hughs

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