What a fantastic experience last week’s conference was! Thanks to the support from 600 delegates and more than 40 sponsors, exhibitors and supporters, Australasia’s second Australasian Road Safety Conference (ARSC2016) was again a phenomenal success! The 200+ papers and posters, workshops & symposia, keynotes, invited speakers & panellists ensured there was something for everyone in our combined efforts to drive down road deaths and injuries.
This increasing interest coincides with an increased commitment from our leaders and stakeholders across the road safety community towards reversing the alarming rising trend in road trauma. We were delighted that Australia’s federal Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, Hon Darren Chester, delivered a comprehensive Call to Action, from his position as a Federal Cabinet minister as well as a road user and father.
Many authors, presenters, delegates and exhibitors contributed ideas, processes and products to make specific improvements in the task of reducing road trauma and we will be preparing a summary of the key actions to encourage implementation.
We are all committed to getting Australia’s road safety performance level back into the top ten in the world during the UN Decade for Action for Road Safety 2010-2020. If we continue at our current road trauma levels, an estimated 500,000 people will be injured or killed in road crashes between now and 2030. That is an estimated $450 billion of avoidable costs in Australia alone that will fall on our health, social welfare, community and business sectors. A cost the country cannot afford and we must invest now to ensure it is reduced. Last year we endorsed a commitment to “Trauma Free Roads” – we must continue that commitment along with a further commitment to ensuring a Safe System that meets the needs of all road users.
At the Conference last week, Professor Ann Williamson, Director of Transport and Road Safety Research at the University of New South Wales, was recognised for outstanding work with the prestigious 2016 ACRS Fellowship, presented by Hon Darren Chester, Minister for Infrastructure and Transport. This is Australasia’s highest honour for an outstanding road safety advocate – a well-deserved congratulations to Professor Williamson who joins an elite group of experts awarded the honour of ACRS Fellowship since 1991.
The Conference Dinnner was also an opportunity to recognise a team within the Northern Territory Government who were rewarded for their project showing exemplary innovation and effectiveness to save lives and injuries on roads. The DriveSafe NT Remote project, led by Team Leader Wayne Buckley, is being delivered by the Northern Territory Government to expedite road trauma reductions among indigenous communities, and was awarded the Grand Prize of a trip to USA during the ARSC2016 conference dinner. 4 Highly Commended projects were also recognised.
There was a pre-conference round table meeting with Minister Chester with leaders of some of the non-government organisations and relevant academic institutions where the Minister sought advice on potential solutions to reduce trauma – and most importantly to discuss why we are seeing this alarming rise in the road trauma rates. He advised he would pass the information on to State Ministers and officials and would extend the round table process over the next year. We look forward to bringing you further progress updates on the Minister’s leadership over the next 12 months, and look forward to an update at ARSC2017.
This year the conference implemented a Low and Middle Income Country Scholarship Program to enable 9 participants from 7 Countries to attend ARSC2016. This was made possible thanks to the generosity of the Australian Federal Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development and the Global Road Safety Partnership (GRSP). We were also delighted to be able to offer 2 scholarships for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community representatives to attend ARSC2016 – again thanks to the generosity of the GRSP.
The United Nations has a goal to halve the number of global deaths and injuries from road traffic crashes by 2020 (a Herculean task), and unfortunately despite our good performance in reducing trauma the past, Australia’s target is for a 30% reduction in this current decade. While such targets may be seen as aspirational by many, there is no reason why we can’t all take ownership and make a concerted effort to achieve them. Our broader communities need to embrace the same vision as the road safety community; no one should die in road crashes.
We hope that the ARSC2016 is helping to meet these goals, and we aim to build on this momentum with future Australasian Road Safety Conferences. We have sent all delegates a survey to help us learn from you on how we can improve for next year.
Please join us in Perth in October 2017 to help us all to maintain this positivity and momentum – there is so much more that all of us are capable of, especially when we are working in a collaborative and supportive environment such as the one evident at ARSC2016.
We look forward to seeing you all next year!