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

Kerry Norton interview by Yahoo News

Road safety ambassador Kerry Norton was interviewed by Yahoo News about her road trauma story. Kerry makes sure her family members never drive while they’re tired, and she shares her story to encourage others to be responsible while behind the wheel.

“If you’re getting behind the wheel, or if you know someone who you’re sitting beside is fatigued, offer, ‘Can I drive for you?’, or vice versa, ask, ‘Should I be driving?” Ms Norton says.

“Especially to drink drivers. If your friend has drunk too much, it’s your responsibility to let them know not to get behind the wheel.”

Her message is to remind people all it takes is a split second.

“You can kill someone and go to jail, or you can lose a family member, or two like I did, my husband and my daughter, in a split second.”

A big thank you to Kerry, for sharing your story.

Continue reading

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Melinda Dine interview by The Age about the untold impact of road trauma

Melinda Dine, Road Safety Ambassador, recently shared her road trauma story with The Age. Melinda shares her story at our education programs, to create change on our roads.

“A real way to make some sense and good out of something that is really tragic.”

At the start of some education sessions, the offenders come in “full of bravado” and are “just there to tick a box”.

“But I guarantee you there is a monumental shift after they hear our stories. You can almost see it, it’s like a physical realisation.”

A big thank you to Melinda for sharing her story.

Continue reading

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Road trauma memorial gets underway

The Victorian State Government has begun work has begun on a new memorial at Geelong’s waterfront to give people who have experienced road trauma a place to reflect and remember.

Ocean Grove’s Don Walters’ concept ‘Solace’ will be an enduring memorial for people to contemplate the impacts of road trauma and to remember people who have lost their lives on Victorian roads.

Member for Geelong Christine Couzens recently joined Mr Walters to announce the start of works on the memorial.

The sculpture will have a permanent home along the picturesque eastern Geelong waterfront, off Hearne Parade, where the views will provide a peaceful place for remembering.

The memorial and its design will create a place for all people affected by road trauma to visit and remember their loved ones, as well as raise awareness for Road Trauma Support Services Victoria (RTSSV), who offer support services for people impacted by road trauma.

The TAC has partnered with the City of Greater Geelong to deliver the road trauma memorial project with support from RTSSV and the Uniting Church of Australia (UCAVT).

Representatives from the TAC and City of Greater Geelong, along with TAC clients and community members affected by road trauma, were all involved in the selection process of the successful artwork.

The City of Greater Geelong is undertaking landscaping works around the memorial site to create a welcoming space with all-abilities access.

The project is expected to be completed by the middle of this year.

Caption: Pictured (from left), artist Don Walters, Manager Towards Zero Engagement Meg Jacobs, City of Greater Geelong councillor Pat Murnane, Member for Geelong Christine Couzens, City of Greater Geelong Deputy Mayor Kylie Grzybek.

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Jeanette Suhr OAM interview by royalauto

Losing a child changes a person in fundamental ways. “Your hopes and dreams are gone.” Jeanette Suhr OAM, who has been part of our organisation right from the very beginning, was recently interviewed by RACV magazine royalauto about her road trauma story, continue reading.

The pain of losing her beautiful 19-year-old daughter Tanya in 1991 never leaves Jeanette.

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If you or someone you know has experienced road trauma and may need support call 1300 367 797 and book an appointment with one our counsellors.

Time for Remembering 2019

On Sunday 17 November 2019, we held our 19th annual Time for Remembering ceremony at Parliament House, which is the United Nation’s World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims. This day is dedicated to remembering the many millions killed and injured in road crashes, their families and friends and the many others whose lives are affected. It is also designed to give thanks to emergency services and all who work tirelessly to reduce road trauma.

This annual event is held to remember those who have died, those who continue to suffer, and the impact of road trauma on our community.

We are very grateful to RTSSV’s Art Therapy Group, members of which worked throughout the year to create ‘Clay Tokens of Remembrance’, individual artworks that were exhibited at the ceremony — dedicated to our loved ones and to all people who have been killed or injured on our roads.

We warmly thank the Reverend Andy Calder for leading the ceremony, The Hon. Jaala Pulford for delivering a message from the state government, and Jeanette Suhr OAM, for sharing her story

Thank you to all who contributed to this special event, including Joe Califiore, TAC; Assistant Commissioner Stephen Leane, Victoria Police; Michael Johnson, Harpist; Barbara Joyce and the Art Therapy Group and the members of the Organised Water Choir.

We are grateful to the TAC and Uniting Church Synod of Victoria and Tasmania for their ongoing support of Time for Remembering.

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Trauma and children

When a child experiences trauma, their age and level of maturity can influence how they react. Some children find it hard to understand their feelings and struggle to verbalise them. Despite the difference in their ability to describe what they are experiencing, children can be affected by the same range of reactions an adult experiences following a traumatic event.

A child’s age impacts on the way they express their distress and what they may need to recover. There are some signs to look out for in children who may be having difficulties but do not necessarily lead to long-term problems. Most are normal and will resolve in time with the help of caring family members and friends.

Some of the signs to watch for include:
• Reliving the trauma through dreams, play, preoccupation with traumatic events
• Distress when reminded of the traumatic event
• Disorganised or agitated behaviour
• Avoiding reminders
• Withdrawal from people
• Losing interest in significant activities
• Over alert – hypervigilance
• Sleep trouble
• Unusually clingy
• Physical discomfort
• Changes in behaviour eg. regression

HOW TO HELP
It’s important to recognise that the child’s behaviour may be a response to the trauma. Reassure the child that they are safe. Have open honest communication about the experience, including both talking and listening. Give the child special attention and allow them to express their emotions. Offer comfort when they are distressed. Correct any misunderstandings or unwarranted fears.

Give clear honest information in an age-appropriate way. Encourage enjoyable activities and have quality family time together. Maintain routine where possible. Using creative practices such as drawing or writing about the experience helps children to understand and process their feelings. Using play for young children is another way to help them communicate and process what they are feeling. Normalise any emotions they experience.

WHEN TO GET PROFESSIONAL HELP
If the reactions described in this post are severe or continue for an extended period, the child could be experiencing a more serious reaction and may need professional help. Contacting a health practitioner is also recommended if a child is experiencing:
• Severe and continued sleep disturbance
• Severe anxiety when separated from loved ones
• Continued fears about things which may remind the child of the trauma
• Behaviour problems at home or school
• Self-doubts, withdrawal or other significant changes in emotions or personality
• A return to ‘babyish’ behaviour that the child had outgrown
• Intense and ongoing emotional upset
• Substance use, dangerous or risk-taking behaviours.

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.

Paul Illman Honorary Life Membership

Paul has been a volunteer with Road Trauma Support Services Victoria (RTSSV) since 2008.  Paul speaks at our Road Trauma Awareness Seminar (RTAS) about his experiences as a member of the Melbourne Fire Brigade (MFB).

RTAS facilitators who have worked with Paul describe him as dependable and sincere, and someone who always displays a positive attitude towards the participants. RTAS facilitator, Peter Carolan said that since the early days, Paul has demonstrated a willingness to attend RTAS even after a busy and full-day at work or when on leave.

Paul has also been a critical player in increasing community awareness about the ‘ripple effect’ of road trauma, something he reinforces in the seminars and mentioned by RTAS participants in their feedback after the seminars. We welcome Paul as a life member and sincerely thank him for everything he has done for us.