Have you witnessed or assisted at the scene of a serious road incident?

If you have witnessed or given assistance at the scene of a serious road incident, it is important to be aware of the range of feelings, thoughts and responses you may have. Individuals may have reactions that may be hard to manage and confusing for them and those that are close to them.

Common reactions include flashbacks, sleeplessness, uncomfortable physical sensations and symptoms, social withdrawal, irritability, and strong emotions such as anger or guilt – just to name a few.

These are all normal human responses to a traumatic event, and there is usually a natural recovery that occurs over time, however, for some people that can be a slow process and can take months or even years.

It is essential to seek support from family and friends who can listen without trying to fix it. If you find yourself alone, or your symptoms persist, it can be helpful to speak to a professional such as your GP, a counsellor, psychologist or a social worker.

We offer free state-wide professional counselling to anyone impacted by road trauma and are open Monday to Friday between 9 am and 5 pm. To make an appointment call 1300 367 797.

left unfinished – every story deserves to be finished

Road Trauma Support Services Victoria (RTSSV), with the support of the TAC, launched a new campaign, left unfinished this week.

left unfinished features seven ordinary personal items belonging to someone whose life was either tragically lost, or forever changed through road trauma. Each item represents a chapter in a book that will never be written – a story left unfinished.

A big thank you to our storytellers, Kerry Ann, Josie, Claire, Melinda, Alex, Sally and Deb. We also want to thank the TAC and the Taboo Group for bringing the campaign together.

The campaign uses an interactive exhibition to pay tribute to the people involved, their friends and families. It also serves as a reminder to all Victorians to never take our lives for granted when we get behind the wheel.

The left unfinished campaign forms part of RTSSV’s ‘Shine a Light on Road Safety’ week. It also coincides with National Road Safety Week. Both events run from 15 – 22 November 2020.

The exhibition will be in the Melbourne Museum forecourt (Museum Plaza) until 22 November 2020. To see the virtual experience, watch the left unfinished videos or read their stories, click here.

leftunfinished_01

You are not alone

We understand that people will respond to the campaign in their own way. We wanted to let you know about Left unfinished and offer our support if you need it. Our counselling services are free and unlimited, call 1300 367 797 to book an appointment.

Rev. Dr Andy Calder steps down from Time for Remembering

This year Road Trauma Support Services Victoria (RTSSV) commemorates 20 years of our Time for Remembering ceremony, and, sadly, but understandably, Rev. Dr Andy Calder has decided to step down.

Andy sustained serious injuries in a road incident in 1986 and his recovery in rehab spanned more than three years.

In 1999 at Jeanette Suhr’s OAM invitation, Andy organised a gathering of those bereaved and injured from road trauma.

Following that in 2001, Andy instigated the first Time for Remembering ceremony which combined speeches held at the City Square, with the congregation then walking their way to St Paul’s Cathedral.

In the 20 years since, most of the ceremonies have been held in Queen’s Hall, Parliament House, and Andy has been convenor of the planning committees for what is now a regular and significant event in the organisation’s calendar.

Andy was a Board member from 1997 – 2010, Chairman for two terms and became a Life Member in 2010.

Evolving from Time for Remembering it became apparent there was a need for a state-wide memorial to recognise the impact of road trauma in Victoria. In 2005 Andy was the recipient of an RACV Sir Edmund Herring Study Grant to investigate road trauma memorials in the UK. 13 years ago, along with the Board, Andy attracted government support and funding. He has persisted through many consultations and setbacks to finally see the development of the memorial constructed earlier this year in Geelong called ‘Solace’. This project was supported by the Transport Accident Commission, City of Greater Geelong, and was developed in partnership with RTSSV and the Uniting Church Synod of Victoria and Tasmania.

On behalf of RTSSV and our community, we would like to thank you, Andy, for all your contributions. You have been an integral part of the organisation, especially Time for Remembering, and we are very grateful for your input and dedication. Although you will no longer be leading this event, we sincerely hope that you will stay connected.

21 years booklet

Solace

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Road Trauma Memorial

Solace is Victoria’s first-ever state-wide road trauma memorial aimed at giving people a space to reflect on the impact of road trauma and remember those who have lost their lives or been seriously injured on our roads.

Located in Geelong, Victoria, the north-facing waterfront location gives uninterrupted views of Corio Bay from its site on Hearne Pde, Eastern Beach. It has been a partnership between the TAC, Road Trauma Support Services Victoria (RTSSV), City of Greater Geelong, and the Synod of Victoria and Tasmania, Uniting Church in Australia.

The Artwork
The memorial is a piece of public art created by Ocean Grove artist, Don Walters.

Using the cyclical moon phases to represent the experience of grief, Solace takes the lunar phase as a metaphor for the constantly changing range of emotions those experiencing loss through road trauma. The semi-circular shape and space within the structure also encourages visitors to experience and ‘move through’ the space.

The sculptural aspect of Solace is in seven parts made of a combination of stainless steel and stone. A stainless steel rim encloses and holds the stone that is shaped into segments that represent phases of the moon’s cycle.

Volunteer speaker, Kajol Eagle, wins the Warrnambool youth achievement award

Our volunteer speaker, Kajol Eagle, has overcome more than most – adopted from an orphanage, endured 20 brain surgeries and a life-threatening road incident – but it’s her acts of kindness that shine bright.

When Kajol Eagle took out a Warrnambool youth achievement award for kindness, resilience and compassion, she lived up to the title by passing on her $200 prize to others in need.

Last week she handed over the cheque to Warrnambool Foodshare, but in her 26 years, Kajol has overcome more than most. You can read more of her story in a recent article in the Warrnambool Standard.

Fantastic recognition for such an inspiring person, well done Kajol, and thank you.

Shared loss breaks through global boundaries

A road safety ambassador for Road Trauma Support Services Victoria (RTSSV) for more than 15 years, Kerryann never thought she would be extending her support globally.

Having personally experienced road trauma, Kerryann dedicates her time to help others get through difficult moments in life. Her husband fell asleep at the wheel due to fatigue on a camping trip, and tragically lost his life and also that of their daughter. Kerryann was seriously injured and spent many months recovering both physically and mentally.

Kerryann found love again and later had a beautiful son with her second husband, who sadly passed away from cancer.

Navigating through her own journey experiencing tragic loss, Kerryann is again dealing with life’s challenges, closing her bookshop business due to the uncertain COVID-19 environment.

It is a reminder that crisis can happen at any time, and coming together is key to getting through it.

In between finding creative ways to keep her now 15-year-old son entertained in isolation, Kerryann received a message on Facebook, and she felt a need to open it. The message was from a young girl in India who was grieving after losing her brother on our roads who had been studying in Melbourne.

A tragic road incident caused by fatigue, this was devastating news for his family back in India as well as Camo, his beloved rescue dog that kept him company while studying.

The sister found Kerryann through her story on the RTSSV website and expressed her concern about finding Camo a home, now alone and at risk of being a lost dog once again.

As Kerryann already understood how fatigue and the effect of road trauma hits a family, she kindly opened her heart and home to this grieving family on the other side of the world to care for and adopt Camo.

Camo took some time settling in his new home, but he soon became Kai’s (Kerryann’s son) best friend, and it’s now hard to separate the two!

The family in India sent over a gift and a note of appreciation for holding Camo’s paw through his grief. The note mentioned that her brother is smiling from heaven, knowing that his beloved dog is being cared for. Giving comfort to his family in this time of loss showed kindness, love and a deep connection to both families touched by the effects of fatigue on the road.

We all have a responsibility to be safe on our roads to ensure others get home safely.

Thank you Kerryann and the family in India for sharing your story.

National Volunteers Week 18 – 24 May 2020

National Volunteer Week, is a perfect opportunity for us to acknowledge the work our volunteers do for Road Trauma Support Services Victoria every day and recognise their contribution, during what has been a challenging year for everyone.

In their roles as volunteers, whether it is speaking in our education programs, talking to the media, or working in the office helping us with day-to-day activities, we truly appreciate the time our volunteers give us. Their willingness to share themselves and their stories of road trauma are changing lives and communities.

We were founded based on people supporting each other and making a difference. The impact we have on the Victorian community is significant because of our volunteers.

Thank you to every one of our volunteers for contributing to raising community awareness about the devastating impact of road trauma and working with us to make a difference.

#nvw2020

Our community shining a light on road safety

This year our Shine a Light on Road Safety was a little different, but it is even more important than ever to stay connected and support each other. Below are video highlights of the last six years of Shine a Light on Road Safety and road safety wishes from our supporters.

Our people shining a light on road safety

Bernadette Nugent, CEO, Road Trauma Support Services Victoria, talks about shining a light on road safety

Highlights from our Shine a Light on Road Safety campaign since 2014

Bee Safe our special buzzy bee has a road safety message for our community

Our supporters shining a light on road safety

A message of support from the Minister for Roads, Road Safety and TAC, Jaala Pulford, Assistant Commissioner Victoria Police Road Policing, Libby Murphy, the Transport Accident Commission (TAC) CEO, Joe Calafiore, and our CEO Bernadette Nugent.

Our sponsors shining a light on road safety

Katie Minogue, from Maurice Blackburn Lawyers talks about shining a light on road safety

Henry Carus, from Henry Carus Lawyers talks about the supporting the campaign

Zoe Zaparus, from Zaparus Lawyers talks about supporting the walk

COVID-19 (Coronavirus) update

Hello everyone,

First and foremost, our thoughts are with you, your families, and everyone throughout the world who has been impacted by COVID-19.

As the COVID-19 pandemic spreads, we are taking additional safety measures to protect the community. The scale of impact is still unknown, and we want to play our part to help keep everyone safe.

Stay connected

We are all community, and it’s essential to stay connected. Pick up the phone, send a message, skype or email and reach other to others around you

Please know that we are here, and we will continue to provide counselling services by phone and Skype. If you would like to talk to a counsellor, please call  1300 367 797 to book an appointment.

Our community has supported each other through tough times, and we will continue to do so. Please know that we are only a phone call away.

Shine a Light on Road Safety

Our Shine a Light on Road Safety campaign will continue in a different format.

The walk has been cancelled. Given the current government and health guidelines and the high risk to public health currently posed by COVID-19, we know this decision is in the best interests of our community.

We are still figuring out our next steps, but we know that your support is more valuable and needed than ever before. Our work to support people impacted by road trauma and raise community awareness continues, so stay tuned, and we will let you know how you can help.

25 years of sharing hope

From humble beginnings, our founding vision was to support people impacted by road trauma. Now, 25 years later, we are just as committed to that vision and to providing a safe space to connect, be heard and promote road safety. We are all in this together and, as a community, we can help one another.

Our road safety programs

At this point, with the most recent update on the ban on non-essential gatherings involving more than 100 people, our road safety programs are still running. Our programs are limited to 10 participants. To safeguard the health and wellbeing of our customers and staff, we are following all of the State and Federal Departments of Health guidelines.

If you feel unwell, have returned from overseas in the last 14 days or have been exposed to the COVID-19 virus, please do not attend the program, contact us on 1300 367 797 or email rtasadmin@rtssv.org.au. Because the situation is evolving, our plans may change. If they do, we will let you know.

Coping during the outbreak
We understand the feelings of anxiety, distress and concern many people may be experiencing about COVID-19. The spotlight of national and international news coverage on the issue can make it a talking point in many areas of our lives.

It’s completely normal to be concerned about the coronavirus outbreak. It is essential to maintain perspective and support each other as best we can.

Medical, scientific and public health experts around the world, are working hard to contain the virus, treat those affected and develop a vaccine as quickly as possible, and it is vital to stay positive.

Find a healthy balance
Being exposed to large volumes of negative information can heighten feelings of anxiety. While it’s essential to stay informed, you may find it useful to limit your media intake if it is upsetting you or your family. And ensure that the media you access is good quality from credible sources.

Resources for parents
Dr Michael Carr-Gregg has created an excellent video – Coronavirus: A Guide for Parents – that is worth watching.

Support each other
Our community has supported each other through tough times, and we will continue to do so.

It’s everyone’s responsibility to help stop the spread of this virus, and we encourage our friends to take the extra precautions to stay safe. The Australian Government Health Department and the Victorian Government Health Department website and your local health authorities are the best resources for updates and answers to questions.

Over the years, our community has faced many challenges, and we have always been inspired by how we emerge stronger with an even deeper sense of purpose. We will persevere through this challenge, too.

Thank you for your support,
Bernadette Nugent
CEO

COVID-19 (Coronavirus)

The health and wellbeing of Road Trauma Support Services Victoria and the greater community is a key priority for us. We are continuing to review and monitor the coronavirus situation as it unfolds.

The steps and decisions we are taking are in lock-step with the most recent advice from the State and Federal Departments of Health. We will continue to adjust our operations as necessary.

We can all play a role in reducing the spread of the virus. Simple precautions and planning make a big difference.

If you have a cough or other flu symptoms (like a fever, sore throat or a runny nose), you may put our people at risk. Please reschedule your counselling appointment or attendance at our education programs until you are well again.

How can we help prevent the spread of coronavirus?

Practising good hand hygiene and sneeze/cough hygiene is the best defence against most viruses:

  • wash hands frequently with soap and water, before and after eating, and after going to the toilet
  • cover coughs and sneezes, dispose of tissues and use alcohol-based hand sanitiser
  • if you are feeling unwell, avoid contact with others such as touching, kissing, hugging

More information

While coronavirus is of concern, it is essential to remember that most people displaying symptoms such as fever, cough, sore throat or tiredness are likely suffering from a cold or other respiratory illness—not coronavirus.

For the latest advice, information and resources, go to www.health.gov.au

Call the National Coronavirus Health Information Line on 1800 020 080. It operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If you require translating or interpreting services, call 131 450.

The phone number of your state or territory public health agency is available at www.health.gov.au/state-territory-contacts

If you have concerns about your health, speak to your doctor.

Thank you,
Road Trauma Support Services Victoria