As a nation we must work together to improve Road Safety for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and the Voice will provide an opportunity to help make this happen.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are overrepresented in fatal and serious injury crashes on Australian roads, being almost three times more likely to die than other Australians. The ACRS believes that action must be taken to address this problem, and to do this we must recognise that First Nations people face unique challenges and perspectives in relation to road safety. This means we all must actively engage with and involve First Nations people in our efforts to improve road safety.
The ACRS supports the Voice on the basis that it may help to facilitate leadership by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and co-design of road safety interventions for greater effectiveness.
We acknowledge the diversity of views on the topic of the Voice and commit to help drive an informed and respectful debate.
Across Australia, and especially in regional and remote areas, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander road users are 30 per cent more likely to be hospitalised due to a road crash compared to other Australians, resulting in long-term health conditions, serious disabilities and ongoing impacts to their communities.
The ACRS believes our members can contribute to improved road safety outcomes for First Nations people in the following ways:
- Research and Data Collection: Working with First Nations people to advocate for improved collection of crash data and in-depth analysis of the underlying factors contributing to road crashes. This data-driven approach can help identify evidence-based strategies specifically tailored to address road safety issues in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
- Education and Community Engagement: First Nations people are in the best position to actively engage with their communities to raise awareness about road safety issues, promote safe driving practices, and encourage communities to be involved in road safety initiatives. A community approach can also assist in culturally-appropriate educational campaigns that resonate with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, addressing the specific barriers they may face.
- Policy Advocacy: First Nations people are best placed to advocate on policies and initiatives that address specific road safety challenges faced by their own communities. This includes identifying appropriate road safety programs and improvements to infrastructure and targeted interventions that take into account the unique circumstances and cultural perspectives of First Nations people.
- Partnership collaboration: Working together can facilitate collaboration between First Nations communities, all levels of government and NGOs working towards road safety outcomes. By building cooperative partnerships First Nations people can develop and implement road safety initiatives, that are more effective and lead to sustainable outcomes for their communities.
- Infrastructure Planning and Maintenance: First Nations people understand the issues within their communities and can advocate for better designed road infrastructure that addresses their safety. In remote and regional areas in particular, we should aim to provide accessible and well-maintained roads and transport systems to ensure First Nations peoples can travel safely.
A Constitutionally enshrined Voice to Parliament for First Nations people is an opportunity to embrace the knowledge, unique circumstances and cultural significance of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and support them in ways that will contribute to the best road safety outcomes for their people.