Illegal fireworks cause lifelong scars for Queensland mother | Resources Safety & Health Queensland Skip to content

Illegal fireworks cause lifelong scars for Queensland mother

16 December 2023

Lisa Vanderweyde still gets emotional every time she talks about the horrific incident that left her scarred for life on New Years Eve in 2016.

Lisa was celebrating with her family on North Stradbroke Island when a group ignited fireworks illegally.

The fireworks tipped over and one shot into the crowd, hitting Lisa's leg.

"I put my hand on my leg and it was covered in blood," said Mrs Vanderweyde.

Lisa was taken to hospital where doctors surgically removed the clay plug that was lodged in her thigh, only centimetres from hitting a main artery.

"It was a horrendous thing to go through and I wouldn't wish it upon my worst enemy," she said.

"My youngest son was standing next to me at the time and I wonder, what if it had hit him? What if it had got him in the chest?"

Lisa had no idea the fireworks display on the island was being run illegally, saying "I don't think your average family would know."

It's incidents like Lisa's that have prompted a warning from Resources Safety and Health Queensland (RSHQ) as the holiday season begins.

RSHQ Inspector Raymond Stewart says most people don't realise the incorrect use of fireworks can lead to serious injury and even death.

"Unauthorised fireworks have been illegal in Queensland since 1972 so there really is no excuse for not knowing the law," said Mr Stewart.

"Only a few months ago we saw a Queensland man blinded in both eyes from illegally using fireworks.

"We know everyone wants to have fun during the holiday season, but using fireworks illegally is just not worth the risk.

"You can find a full list of approved fireworks displays in Queensland on the RSHQ website."

RSHQ inspectors work with licenced operators to ensure all Queenslanders are safe by checking compliance with the Queensland Code of Practice.

"We tend to see a rise in the use of illegal fireworks at this time of year and we will be cracking down on anyone who puts their lives, or the lives of people around them at risk," said Mr Stewart.

Minister for Resources Scott Stewart is encouraging Queenslanders to celebrate safely this month.

"You can still enjoy the festive season with a bang, but please do it safely and stick to legal public fireworks displays," said Minister Stewart.

In 2023 RSHQ recorded 54 complaints of illegal fireworks, 42 recoveries of illegal fireworks and 11 incidents involving fireworks, one of which was illegal.

Illegal fireworks are often purchased from other states where the laws are less stringent, then brought into Queensland.

RSHQ explosives inspectors conduct border operations throughout the year to prevent illegal fireworks from entering the state.

The penalty for using illegal fireworks in Queensland is $60,000 and 6-months imprisonment.

For more information on illegal fireworks complaints, visit RSHQ's website.

Anyone with information about the people responsible for Lisa's injury are urged to contact RSHQ or Queensland Police.

It is illegal to possess and use fireworks in Queensland without an authority. You can report suspicious activity related to fireworks to the Explosives Inspectorate by calling 1300 739 868.



Media contact

Amy McCann

0457 094 250

Last updated: 16 Dec 2023