RTSSV’s submission to the National Joint Select Committee’s Inquiry into Road Safety

Road Trauma Support Services Victoria has developed a video submission to the National Joint Select Committee’s Inquiry into Road Safety.

Our position 

We are unwilling to settle for 1,000 deaths on the road each year – or 39,000 life-changing injuries. No one should have to go through the grief and loss of road trauma. This is not the price anyone should have to pay for mobility. 

Our lives are complex. About 70 per cent of crashes don’t involve high-risk behaviour; instead, they are caused by ‘simple errors’ and a moment of distraction. We can all do more to be present and mindful of the risks around us, and we encourage more resources and initiatives to address driver distraction. 

However, to err is human. We need a safe system, which will require changes to our vehicles, roads, and speeds. Securing community support for these changes is critical. Thirty years ago, drink driving was acceptable, and now it’s not. So we know that this change is possible. 

Changing culture to embrace road safety 

We have witnessed that sharing lived experiences cuts through preconceived ideas and shifts in thinking, and we invite you to watch the short video above from our volunteer speakers. 

 People in our community choose to speak up about road safety for many reasons – they do not want others to experience what they have, they want to honour a loved one, and they can see the difference it makes. It takes skill, courage, commitment, education, and support to be done well. 

Hundreds of thousands of people are caught up in the ripple effect of road trauma, and we hear their stories every day. We believe there are untapped opportunities to support and amplify the voices of people who have experienced road trauma to speak up and drive change locally. 

Whats next 

One of the things this Committee could do that would have a considerable impact on promoting cultural change is to establish strategies and initiatives to mobilise ordinary Australians who have experienced road trauma to speak up and drive change. 

We look forward to working with the Committee, and we would be pleased to share our experiences with you. We look forward to the outcomes of this inquiry and truly hope that we see action as soon as possible.

A big thank you to our brave volunteers for sharing their road trauma stories.

Read the full submission here

COVID-19 Update

To comply with the Government restrictions, the Road Trauma Support Services Victoria’s office will be closed temporarily until Monday 7 June, with team members working remotely during normal office hours.

If you have a Road Trauma Awareness Seminar Program booked during this time, please contact us 1300 367 797.

Please know that we are here, and we will continue to provide counselling services by phone. 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.

Stay safe, Victoria.

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.

Announcing a new partnership with Slater and Gordon Lawyers

Road Trauma Support Services Victoria (RTSSV) is pleased to announce a new partnership with Slater and Gordon Lawyers.

Founded in 1935, Slater and Gordon is committed to providing access to justice and achieving the best outcomes for clients, including those who have lost loved ones to road trauma. RTSSV CEO, Bernadette Nugent, said she was delighted to welcome Slater and Gordon to the RTSSV community.

“The partnership will help RTSSV continue to provide our vital services, including our free counselling, information and support for every Victorian impacted by road trauma,” Ms Nugent said.

“There are people in our midst who live with the reality of road trauma every day, be they bereaved family members and friends, the injured, drivers involved in road crashes, emergency service workers and witnesses.

“The road toll reaches far beyond the number of deaths and injuries counted each year.”

Partnering with Slater and Gordon and other law firms assists RTSSV financially and, most importantly, gives our clients the opportunity, if needed, to source appropriate legal assistance and support.

Slater and Gordon CEO, John Somerville, said the firm was supportive of the important work RTSSV does.  Mr Somerville said their motor vehicle accident lawyers often heard firsthand about the life-changing effect road trauma has on their clients’ lives, and on that of their loved ones.

“The injured people we work with are going through some of the most challenging times in their lives after experiencing a road trauma,” Mr Somerville said.

“When they reach out to us, they know they will receive the care and support they need from highly experienced teams who specialise in personal injury law.”

Why we partner with law firms

Being involved in a transport incident may be very distressing, and many people feel overwhelmed by everything that is happening.

There may be legal matters that need to be addressed, such as wills, probate, accessing superannuation and making a Transport Accident Commission (TAC) claim.

In Victoria, the TAC is the Victorian no-fault accident compensation scheme. When drivers register a vehicle, they take out insurance that covers you in a transport accident for medical and rehabilitation costs and, in some instances, income support.

We find that some people have a better experience and achieve the best possible outcome if they get appropriate legal support promptly.

Our legal partners

Four law firms support our organisation by providing general advice about legal issues that affect people impacted by road trauma and give $10,000 to our counselling, support and advocacy services.

Join our community walk at Albert Park Lake on Sunday 2 May

Shine a Light on Road Safety

Please support our campaign to raise awareness, stop deaths and injuries on our roads, and raise funds to support those impacted by trauma.

WHEN: Sunday 2 May. Entertainment starts at 11am, walk from 11:30am and lunch from 12pm.

WHERE: Palms Lawn, Albert Park Lake (between the Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre and The Point Restaurant).

DISTANCE: 2km or 5km route. Or sit back in the marquee seating and enjoy a coffee and chat.

THE WALK: Wheelchair, mobility scooter and prams accessible. Dogs on a lead are welcome. Wear your brightest clothes and help to raise awareness of road safety.

FOOD: Water, coffee and light snacks.

COST: $15 individual, $30 family and $80 group (6+ people).


Road Trauma Support Services Victoria offers free information and counselling to anyone impacted by a road incident.

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.


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



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.