Oct 29, 2008

Pre-recorded Address to the Indigenous Road Safety Forum

Pre-recorded Address to the Indigenous Road Safety Forum

October 29 2008

The Hon Anthony Albanese MP

Minister for Infrastructure, Transport,

Regional Development and Local Government,

Leader of the House,

Federal Member for Grayndler

Good morning everyone.

I acknowledge and thank the Yidinji People, the traditional owners of the land on which this gathering is taking place.

I apologise for not being with you in person today.

But I’ve read through the program and I’m sure the Forum will be both informative and interesting.

Sharing ideas and following through with action can mean real and lasting improvements in road safety.

I encourage you to use this opportunity to explore new ways to overcome the challenges Indigenous people face on our roads.

The Rudd Government has made improving the lives of Indigenous Australians a top priority.

We want to close the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.

In practical terms this means: improving child and adult health; helping kids learn how to read, write and add-up; and giving older students the skills they need to help them get a job when they leave school.

Achieving these outcomes will take time and a strong partnership between the government and Indigenous communities.

One area of public policy I’m particularly keen to see progress is in the area of road safety. To get a picture of this problem, we need only look at the statistics.

Road crashes account for about a quarter of all Indigenous deaths. Indigenous people are around one and half times more likely to be seriously injured and almost three times more likely to be killed in a car crash.

Besides the tragic loss of life, health and well being, Indigenous communities bear a very heavy emotional burden of grief and suffering.

We cannot afford to shrug our shoulders and say the problem is too hard. It won’t be easy, but we must do all we can to turn these statistics around.

One of the key initiatives of the national road safety strategy is to support collaboration between state and territory governments to reduce the numbers of Indigenous Australians injured or killed on the nation’s roads.

This forum is a good starting point.

Our strategies to tackle these problems cannot be based on guess work.

We need good and reliable data to base our decisions on.

My department regularly publishes information on road safety, and recently joined with the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare to publish a report on Aboriginal road safety.

Later today you will hear from one of the authors of this report – Associate Professor James Harrison from Flinders University.

Professor Harrison will provide you with more details on the latest data.

One of the best ways to improve road safety is to learn from the successes and achievements of others.

That is why the Government is funding a new DVD which shows how road safety is being improved for Indigenous communities in different parts of the country. The DVD will be released soon.

The Government also funds a website that provides information on Indigenous road safety. If you want to visit the site, type the words Indigenous Road Safety into Google and follow the links.

During the Forum, the website will be demonstrated at lunch and tea breaks.

And I am also very pleased to announce today a grant of up to $30,000 to be awarded through my Department next year for a project to improve road safety for Indigenous Australians.

Staff from my Department will talk a bit more about this grant throughout the course of this Forum.

Conclusion

To conclude, I want to thank the members of the Indigenous Road Safety Working Group and Queensland Transport for planning and developing this forum.

And thank you to Queensland Transport for arranging the visit to the Yarrabah Aboriginal Community yesterday.

To all of you, I wish you every success in your discussions and look forward to hearing your thoughts on how we can improve Indigenous road safety.

I am sure your collective knowledge, experience and expertise will come up with some very good ideas.

It gives me great pleasure to officially open the 4th Indigenous Road Safety Forum.

ENDS

A video of the Minister’s address can be viewed at:

http://www.minister.infrastructure.gov.au/aa/video/2008/index.htm