by S Lowe 5THE FM newsonline wattlerangenow
The Wattle Range Road Safety Group was presented with a Community Achievement Awards Semi Finalist Certificate of Merit on Thursday 6th November by Rob Forgan Regional Road Safety Officer and nominator of the entry. President Brenton Dohnt accepted the Certificate on behalf of the Group.
The road Safety Award Grand finalists were Coty of Tea Tree Gully, Eli Murn and SA Road Trauma Support Team. Mr Eli Murn was a very worthy winner said Mr Forgan.
Mr Murn was training to be a volleyball Olympian but a car accident causing brain injury changed those dreams for ever. Ten years later he still receives rehabilitation but has turned his experience into a positive program to help young people in particular, make safer decisions when driving a car. It is this program that won Mr Murn the Community Achievement Award Community Road Safety Award.
The Wattle Range Road Safety Group formed in 1994 after a spate of fatal crashes in the local area. They were one of the first Community Road Safety Groups in SA.
The Mayor at the time, Mr. Jim van Schaik called a public meeting that drew over 170 people and this saw the creation of the WRRSG that spearheaded a community based response to the issue of road safety.
At a grass roots level they identify road safety issues, propose and implement solutions demonstrating to the State Government and others the power of community engagement. Fourteen years after their formation, there are 37 community road safety groups. They continue to initiate community awareness and education programs, intervention strategies and push hard for road engineering changes. With courage they address the lasting impact of road trauma and in 2013 initiated and conducted a successful weekend workshop on managing this issue. This tireless and unheralded group of volunteers remain committed to Community Road Safety.
Millicent Myth or Miracle.
In June 1999, the South East Division of General Practice and the Wattle Range Road Safety Group released an extensive report that evaluated their first 5 years of operation. The community evaluation report “Millicent Myth or Miracle” prepared by J Moller of New Directions in Health and Safety supports the view that the positive changes in Millicent’s road crash record have been an outstanding success. In that 5 year period Millicent road crashes decreased by 21-23% compared to an 8% increase in comparison areas. In the same period road crash deaths decreased from 4 per year to less than one per year and road crash hospitalisations decreased by 6%. The Wattle Range (Millicent) performance is better both in terms of rate of change and persistence of the change effect. This commitment to maintaining and improving on existing levels of road crash injury remains very high to this day.
The Wattle Range RSG has been active in raising the profile of road safety in the Millicent area and has implemented road safety initiatives, secured funding and gained support from outside the community. The “Myth or Miracle” report refers to the intermittent monitoring of statistics such as those from the local ambulance service as well as data from the Police Traffic Intelligence Unit, MAC and even Medical Reviews. Myth or Miracle revealed 72 (61%) less road trauma ambulance carries in the 5 years analysed and 11 (35%) less deaths than expected from projections of the 1984-1993 decade. The whole of society savings achieved in this period are an estimated $11.5million while estimated Insurance cost savings over 5 years were -$2,154,900.00 and Lifetime fatality cost savings were $18,525,000.00.The leadership of WRRSG has kept the issue of road safety on the local agenda in a positive and constructive manner.
The Wattle Range Road Safety Group established in 1993/94 was one of the first in South Australia prior to the South Australian Government’s Community Road Safety Program that commenced in 1999. The South Australian Government recognised that community engagement as demonstrated by the Wattle Range (Millicent) RSG identified local road safety issues, proposed and implemented quality solutions and generated conversations and debate that generated interest in road safety issues of relevance to their community.
From being at the vanguard of South Australian Community Road Safety Groups in 1993 I believe this number has grown to 37 community road safety groups.
The Wattle Range RSG membership comprises volunteers from the community and community organisations including Police Officers, SA Ambulance Service, Wattle Range Council, Emergency Services, Industry (Primary/Retail), Health Sector and Service Clubs.
The WRRSG holds regular monthly meetings in addition to project management meetings that they undertake.
No records are available for the considerable number of volunteer hours donated by this community. In addition, the WRRSG has over the years raised significant funds through grants, community support and leveraged substantial in-kind contributions and sponsorship from the private sector, community organisations and regional media.
In South Australia, the Wattle Range RSG from day one has lead from the front. It has been active in strategies, programs and interventions ranging from public awareness campaigns, education, high risk reduction, managing road trauma and road engineering changes. Some examples include:
Death and Injury marker posts (roadside crash markers), road safety signage at sporting venues and workplaces, driver training for youth, lights on campaigns, school road safety programs, mock accident displays at road safety awareness week, driver-reviver stations, a Road Crash Memorial in the heart of Millicent, road safety messages and media releases prepared in collaboration with SAPOL and regional media and the identification and mapping of black spots.