My volunteering experience with Road Trauma Support Services Victoria (RTSSV), has been a lifeline that has transformed my life, and thus influence my relationships with others most positively and fruitfully!

I came across a quote the other day on Facebook that stated this: “One day, you will tell your story, of how you’ve overcome, what you are going through now, and it will become part of someone’s survival guide.” I feel the work that RTSSV’s volunteers and paid staff do – does just that – for many within our community.

My volunteering story began back almost ten years ago now, on the 5th of November 2009. At our family home, early on a Friday morning, a knock at the front door revealed a young police officer who asked me, was I Karen Robinson, Ben’s mum and I said yes. With words that stumbled around, he said they were not sure they had the right address. He then stated that Ben, my son, had been killed in a single-car crash. Ben was 25, travelling at 140 kilometres per hour on a straight stretch of country road, in the early hours of the morning, with a BAC level of .08, hit a kangaroo, lost control of his vehicle, hit two trees and was killed instantly – the Coroner’s report stated. I want to say here, that he was not a bad person, he was well-loved and liked by many, but he did engage in risky driver behaviour for many years and on the night of his death, made some choices that tragically cost him his life. Ben is greatly missed and especially by me, his mum, his dad and sister.

My family’s grieving process was different, for each of us, but for myself, I wanted to see if I could connect with like-minded people – to give purpose and meaning to my life that had been completely shattered by the sudden and tragic loss of our son Ben. Connecting with RTSSV proved to be, one of many steps I undertook during this volunteering journey of mine.

RTSSV’s volunteer speaker training back in 2011, led me to spend five years as a volunteer speaker, sharing my life experience with road trauma, through the Road Trauma Awareness Seminar (RTAS) program to repeat road traffic offenders – people just like my son. Someone asked me one day “you must feel great after sharing your story” and I thought at the time that, that was not the case. After thinking about it for some time, I thought it was the worthiest of tasks I do in my life and still is!

What has enhanced this journey of mine has also been through the paid work that I now do with RTSSV. My volunteering has led to opportunities given to me by Chris Harrison, Education Services Manager, to undertake the role of Regional Coordinator and the RTAS program Facilitator. The position entails connecting me with other facilitators and other volunteer speakers. My job is to help them stay connected regionally and with head office, help with training and give support where needed. My role as a Facilitator is to facilitate sessions about road safety and road trauma, for traffic offender participants, in the hope they will become, safer and more responsible road users in the future.

My volunteering experience with this organisation has been lifesaving for sure. It has improved my sense of self-worth after our family’s tragic event. It helped me rebuild and re-energised my life to give it meaning and purpose. It has given me opportunities to connect and develop meaningful relationships with likeminded people, and opportunities to take up training to enhanced existing skills, and learn new ones!

As a mother, a wife, a friend, a work colleague and community member – I am genuinely appreciative of this – and thank you.

Karen Robinson
June 2019