By Colin MacGillivray
ROAD-TRAUMA support leaders have encouraged people across Mitchell Shire to pause and reflect on their driving behaviour ahead of National Road Safety Week .
The week, from May 16 to 23, is an annual initiative created from a partnership of road safety organisations and government that highlights the impact of road trauma and ways to reduce it.
Road Trauma Support Services Victoria (RTSSV) Hume region coordinator Carmel Maher said road trauma was something people often did not engage with until it affected them or their loved ones.
“So far in Mitchell Shire this year alone we’ve already had two lives lost and we’re only in May,” she said.
“In the past 12 months we’ve had serious injuries in Mitchell Shire, so this is something the community is suffering from and something we all have the opportunity to change by contributing to safe driving behaviours.”
Broadford road trauma survivor Corey Bray shared his experience of a serious collision in the hope it could help other people.
“I was out on my motorbike during the day and came home a little bit too late at dusk. Some kangaroos jumped out in front of me, cleaned me up and sent me into a heap of gumtrees,” he said.
“I was lying off the road down in a ditch for about two hours before I was found by a passerby and I had pretty significant injuries. I had 37 broken bones, a punctured lung and all sorts of other stuff, so I was in a pretty bad way.
“It’s been difficult to process, especially when you’ve never had trauma before and you’ve never dealt with it. It’s like living in another world – it’s hard to explain.”
Mr Bray said he had struggled to come to terms with his experience and initially did not seek help for fear of being a burden on his loved ones.
He said making contact with RTSSV had changed his outlook on mental health.
“Through [RTSSV] I’ve been able to meet people who have been through similar circumstances and are living with trauma or injuries, or have lost people,” he said.
“It’s a network that has come together through bad circumstances but has a good core foundation for what it achieves.
“[For people dealing with road trauma] there is support out there. Don’t suffer in silence and don’t sit at home. We don’t like to burden people with our problems, but with trauma you need to deal with it upfront and speak about it and get it out. If it sits in there and festers it’s not a pretty thing.”
Ms Maher said the organisation wanted people to think critically about their driving during the week.
“We will be running our Shine a Light on Road Safety campaign throughout the week, and it starts with illuminations occurring across the state for that week including the Bolte Bridge,” she said.
“We’re putting a call out to Mitchell Shire residents and businesses that if they would like to illuminate something in yellow, please do so and let us know so we tell the community why that’s happening.
“We’re also asking people to turn their headlights on on May 21 as a show of support for road safety.”
Ms Maher said RTSSV helped not only road trauma survivors, but other affected people such as families, loved ones and first responders. The organisation offers counselling, education and support services.
Ms Maher said she hoped Mr Bray’s story would resonate with Mitchell Shire drivers.
“As a regional coordinator I can speak about our organisation and talk about the numbers and statistics, but there’s nothing quite like hearing a lived experience,” she said.
“Corey is a resident of Mitchell Shire and he has his own lived experience and I think it really connects with people and hits home that this is happening in our region.”
Road Trauma Support Services Victoria offers free information and counselling to anyone impacted by a road incident. More information is available by calling 1300 367 797 or visiting www.rtssv.org.au.