NT’s Indigenous Child Safety Program Takes Out Top Road Safety Prize

A Northern Territory indigenous program changing the attitudes and behaviours towards the use of proper child car restraints has taken out Australasia’s premier road safety award, the 3M-ACRS Diamond Road Safety Award, recognising exemplary innovation andeffectiveness to save lives and injuries on roads. The Northern Territory Motor Accidents (Compensation) Commission (MACC) project, led by Team Leader Christine Thiel, has been developed to reduce the incidence of death and serious injury of children aged 7 and under through the increased use of properly fitted child restraints. 

Indigenous children are dying or seriously injured on Northern Territory roads because they are not properly restrained. In regional and remote areas it is “normal” for babies and toddlers to be carried on laps, standing on seats or even riding in the back of a Ute.

Of the 48 Indigenous children killed or seriously injured in a car crash over the past 10 years only 6 were restrained in a baby capsule or child car seat. The personal impact of road trauma to the child, their extended family and community is immense with many children and infants becoming permanently disabled and requiring lifetime care.

Recognising the enormity of the challenge MACC’s approach is to make the change one community at a time with a simple program model that is scale-able and easily replicated. The program commenced July 2017 with 630 child restraints distributed/fitted across 9 communities in the first year and is and on track to install a total of 1800 child restraints across 24 communities by 30 June 2019. The program is on-going.

The award was presented last night by the Hon Michael McCormack MP, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development, Mr Lauchlan McIntosh AM, President of the Australasian College of Road Safety, and Mr Dan Chen, Vice President & General Manager, 3M’s Transportation Safety Division.  The award ceremony was attended by over 600 of Australasia’s foremost road safety professionals and advocates attending the ARSC2018 Conference Gala Dinner and Awards ceremony at Doltone House in Sydney.

Mr McCormack congratulated all of this year’s award winners for their contribution to improving road safety throughout Australia.  “These awards showcase the breadth and diversity of the great work that’s being done to reduce road trauma and increase road safety in our community,” he said.

“I’d like to congratulate all of the winners for their invaluable contributions which have helped to enhance road safety standards in so many different ways.
“The Liberals and Nationals’ Government takes road safety seriously and understands the importance of awards such as this to help develop and encourage industry leadership and to deliver better outcomes.
“I’d especially like to congratulate Christine Thiel and the team from the Northern Territory MACC project for winning the major road safety award which has contributed to a reduction in the number of deaths and serious injuries of indigenous children in regional Australia, through the installation of properly fitted child restraints.”

ACRS President, Mr Lauchlan McIntosh AM, said “Our 2018 winner, the MACC project, led by Christine Thiel, demonstrates a program aimed at bringing about zero road deaths and injuries in the critical under 7 age group.”

“These Awards have proven to be very successful in helping to transfer the ideas from successful projects to other areas and also to encourage the winners to continue and expand their projects. Reducing the risks for young vulnerable children travelling in cars is essential.”
Ms Thiel said, “these awards create the opportunity to shine a spotlight on new and innovative road safety initiatives that we might not otherwise hear about.  The awards also  provide recognition of those that  enable and support these programs, in our case the NT Motor Accidents (Compensation)  Commission (MACC)  and  of the passionate people  who help bring these programs to  life such as our delivery partner Kidsafe NT.”

Judges considered the specific features of the many projects submitted, particularly in terms of innovation in thinking and technology, problem-solving as well as the real benefits in reducing trauma. Cost-effectiveness and transferability to other areas were other key criteria.

Finalists for this hotly-contested award came from many areas.  These included new ideas and actions from local and state government groups, collaborative programs led by local and regional police groups, individuals passionately pursuing specific projects to reduce risk, industry associations and transport companies implementing programs with targets to ensure safe operations, news programs, and specific education for specialist groups.  These are just a few examples of the successful projects awarded as Finalists (15 in total) and Highly Commended (3) winners this year.

Highly Commended winners for 2018 include:

  • Trailer Safety Control – Bosch Australia – Philipp Frueh
  • Crash Investigation Alliance – Fatals & Vulnerable Users(CIA-FV) – Queensland Police Service (QPS) – Chris Smith
  • Buckle-Up Safely – The George Institute for Global Health, UNSW Sydney – Kate Hunter

“3M is very proud to partner with the ACRS on this prestigious award which continues to enable great programs to be shared, celebrated and replicated to reach their potential on road safety”, said Dan Chen, Vice President & General Manager, 3M’s Transportation Safety Division.  “3M is about applying science to life to get every family home safely. Nowhere is the focus more important than saving lives of young children on our roads.” 

As the winning team leader, Christine Thiel will travel to the USA to attend the 49th ATSSA Annual Convention & Traffic Expo in 2019, and will also visit 3M Global Headquarters in Minnesota.