Football and netball clubs recruited to spread road safety message

Safety first: Shepparton East Football Netball Club players (from left) Liam Trevaskis, Erin Hueston, Hannah Doyle and Brandon Corish, with former Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson (middle left) and Victorian Minister for Roads and Road Safety Ben Carroll at the launch of the Transport Accident Commission Club Rewards Program. Photo by Rechelle Zammit

Football and netball clubs across the Goulburn Valley that present strong road safety messages to their members will be rewarded with grants from the Victorian Government.

The Transport Accident Commission Club Rewards Program was launched in 2021 in an attempt to reduce the state’s road toll and is being offered again this year, with $500,000 to be shared among participating clubs across the state.

Minister for Roads and Road Safety Ben Carroll launched this year’s program at the Shepparton East Football Netball Club on Wednesday, May 18.

On that day, the state’s road toll sat at 95, with 58 of them lost in regional areas, up from the 42 regional road deaths at the same time last year.

“Sadly, often in the road toll, and it’s no different this year, there’s an over representation of young people, particularly under 25, and even more than that, an over representation of young people in regional Victoria,” Mr Carroll said.

Mr Carroll said the government was committed to halving the road toll by 2030 and achieving zero road deaths by 2050.

“Because we do know that when it comes to lives lost and road trauma every death is preventable and every piece of trauma that every family goes through is preventable too,” he said.

“We can get to zero lives lost on our roads and it must be a priority for us.”

TAC head of road safety Samantha Cockfield said the 38 per cent increase in road deaths on regional roads emphasised the importance of getting the road safety message to young people in rural areas.

“We know that clubs are the heart of communities, whether it’s netball, football, or other sporting events, it’s really where the community comes together, and that’s why we’ve decided to partner with AFL Victoria because it’s where we can get key messages out, particularly to young people, particularly around getting driving practice before you get your driving licence and then setting up for good practice going to and from events,” Ms Cockfield said.

Head of AFL Victoria Ben Kavenagh said most clubs across the state had experienced road-related trauma to some degree.

“It’s an unfortunate reality that most grassroots football and netball clubs across the state have been affected by road trauma in some way,” he said.

“We as community football people are in a real position to make a meaningful impact and bring incidents of road trauma down.”

Former Hawthorn AFL coach Alastair Clarkson said, like many families, his has been touched by road trauma, but he thinks there is too much acceptance of the statistics among the wider community.

“We’ve still got a long way to go and part of it is education, part of it is encouraging the youngsters, in particular, to make good choices,” he said.

John Weber, of the Shepparton East Football Netball Club, said the club benefited from a grant last season and was planning to participate again this year.

He said the club’s players often travelled long distances for their work, to train and to play games, so the road safety message was pertinent to them.

“We did a very large social media campaign so there were a lot of videos we put up on sites,” he said.

“We also, with our thirds teams last year, we try to give them some driver education to teach them about the risks associated to make them aware there’s a big responsibility on their life, but also to others as well.

“It’s promotional work throughout the club as well. It’s just really simple, but with that you can make a big impact on the young people.”