My Volunteering

POST-TRAUMATIC GROWTH:  Improving one’s sense of wellbeing using art, creative writing, photography, blogging and public speaking – my journey written by ©Karen Robinson.  Please click here for my latest blog news!






At the beginning of 2011, I followed through with a desire to do volunteer speaking with Road Trauma Support Services Victoria (RTSSV).  Firstly it required me to do some training in order that I could formulate my story, give me an opportunity to train with like-minded people, attend a number of Road Trauma Awareness Seminar (RTAS) sessions where I would be speaking; and then the final act in actually delivering my family’s road trauma story as a volunteer speaker – talking about my son Ben who had been killed in a single vehicle car crash on the 5th November 2009.





Road Trauma Support Services Victoria “is a not-for-profit organisation contributing to the safety and wellbeing of Victorian road users. We provide counselling and support to people impacted by road trauma and address attitudes and behaviours of road users through education. We are committed to educating the community and raising public awareness about road trauma and how it affects people’s lives; we do this in part by sharing personal stories about road trauma (RTSSV 2018)”.



“Road Trauma Support Services Victoria’s Shine a Light on Road Safety campaign is to raise awareness, to stop deaths and injuries on our roads and to raise funds to support those impacted by road trauma: #shinealightonroadsafety (RTSSV 2018)”.



Friday 4 May motorists are asked to turn on headlights to remember those impacted by road trauma and show your commitment to road safety (RTSSV 2018).

Sunday 6 May there is a community walk at Albert Park Lake to enable community participation in advocating for safer roads (RTSSV 2018).


Australian landmarks will be illuminated in yellow for road safety from Monday 30 April to Sunday 6 May; thanks to the support of key partners including the Victorian Government, the Transport Accident Commission (TAC), VicRoads, Victoria Police and campaign sponsors (RTSSV 2018).


  • Road safety is everyone’s responsibility
  • Giving the community voice about road trauma
  • Our counselling and support services are available free and unlimited to anyone impacted by road trauma (RTSSV 2018).



NB:  Featuring images of Karen Robinson in support of campaign




The Transport Accident Commission (TAC) on Friday 27th November 2015 kindly produced a video of RTSSV’s poignant 21st Birthday.  It was a celebration of the achievement of this organisation’s growth from a small home-based volunteer group to a professional counselling and education services not-for-profit organisation.  I was one of the many who attended on this evening in recognition of such an achievement.



Click to access rtssv_21yearbooklet_web.pdf




Since the commence of this year 2016, I have taken on another new role as a Road Trauma Awareness Seminar (RTAS) Facilitator which is a paid position.  This is in addition to my volunteer RTAS role with the organisation.  This new role requires me to deliver a Road Trauma Support Service’s (RTSSV) Program in conjunction with the Magistrates’ Court of Victoria, Australia to traffic offenders as part of sentencing options.  RTAS Sessions are now delivered by a team of facilitators and volunteer speakers to approximately 22 locations across Victoria each month (RTSSV 2016).





Since March 2011 and most months of the year, I have been telling my family’s road trauma story with Road Trauma Support Services Victoria at Road Trauma Awareness Seminars to repeat road traffic offenders. To young and not so young people who have been directed by the Magistrates Courts as part of their sentencing to attend a RTAS or by Solicitors who have recommend that a driver attend prior to their Magistrates Court appearance.  These participants are mostly male and like my son Ben, have serious repeat road traffic offending histories. It’s a 2 1/2 hour seminar where the participants have the opportunity to participate in a series of activities that are designed to get them to rethink about their risky driver behaviour and attitudes.  About what driver behaviour has brought them to the RTA Seminar in the first place, about where they are at, right at that moment, in relation to their driving behaviours and attitudes.  And about what can they put in place in their lives that is going to mean they will not re-offend; that they will not end up spending a period of time in jail, seriously injuring themselves or another road user or at worse be killed or kill another road user because of risky driver behaviour.

RTAS participants also have the opportunity to listen to volunteer speakers who share their personal family’s road trauma stories, like me, and/or emergency service volunteer speakers who share how road trauma impacts on their work and private lives.  Hearing volunteer speakers gives these participants a real opportunity to deeply understand about the impact that risky driver behaviour can have on loved ones, family, friends, workmates and the wider community.


RTSSV Certificate of Appreciation to Karen Robinson for contributing 4 years of voluntary service with Road Trauma Support Services Victoria as at 2015 NB: All images are protected by copyright laws

RTSSV Certificate of Appreciation to Karen Robinson for contributing 4 years of voluntary service with Road Trauma Support Services Victoria as at 2015 NB: All images are protected by copyright laws


So, like many other RTSSV volunteer speakers, I tell my family’s road trauma story in the hope that it will get them to rethink about their risky driver behaviour and attitudes so that they don’t end up like my son Ben.





During one of my creative writing session, we were asked to write approximately 250 words about ‘something we are proud about’ and I wrote the following:-

Something I am Proud About

Proud – meaning ‘feeling pleased and satisfied about having done something or about owning something’!

I think one of the things in my life, that I have personally done, which makes me feel that I should be very proud of, is my volunteering with Road Trauma Support Services Victoria. Being a RTSSV volunteer speaker has helped give meaning and purpose in my life after the death of my 25-year-old son Ben, who was killed in a single vehicle car crash in 2009.

Telling my family’s road trauma story to Road Trauma Awareness Seminar participants helps to give these young and not so young people an opportunity to rethink their risky driver behaviour. It is remarkable, the impact this has on participants. And as a volunteer speaker, you know that what you have told them it is going to save lives, help reduce serious injury and lessen the ripple effect of road trauma on family, friends and the wider community.

It’s something I don’t do for me, but I have definitely benefited from, in ways I wouldn’t have anticipated when I first started volunteer speaking back in March 2011. It’s important, it has helped me reconnect with the wider world, it has added value to my daily life and it has made me a better person. It is also an act of courage, it is humbling, it is sometimes very sad and sometimes difficult, but most of all, it’s the most worthy task I do right now in my life…

©Karen Robinson, November 2015




Volunteer speaking at RTAS with RTSSV has only been part of my journey over recent years.  Art and creative writing have also formed an essential part of helping me gain a good sense of well-being, both mentally and physically.  Below is a painting I did back in 2011 which was one of a series I had painted about my grief and despair during a period of time whilst mourning the loss of my son Ben.  I need to say here that I still mourn for the loss of him but life is better, more hopeful and the sun shines now in every day…  NB:  By clicking on the images below and scrolling up – each painting story is available to read.



PAINTING 45E – Title “Reaching Out To Sons” Acrylic on Canvas Jan 11 /Jun 2011 91cms Length x 91cms Wide x 3cms Deep

The painting featured above titled ‘Reaching Out To Sons’ is an abstraction of a Road Trauma Awareness Seminar.  The black cycles are a representation of the participants – repeat road traffic offenders who have been and/or are still engaging in risky driver behaviour which could, if they continue driving in such a way lead to, a term of imprisonment, serious injury or death – hence I had coloured them black.  The black is significant as it matches the black cycle and centre of the multicoloured cycle to the top right-hand side of the painting.  This multicoloured cycle is a representation of the ripple effect of road trauma, the ripple effect of my son’s death caused by his road trauma.  The red triangle figure is representative of an emergency services volunteer speaker, the green triangle is representative of the educator and the grey triangle with white triangle-shaped arms reaching our to sons is me, or it could be any one of the volunteer speakers that share their road trauma story as I do each month, year in year out.  The colour segments within the background is representation of life that surrounds us all and how precious it is and how by sharing our road trauma stories we hope that these participants, these people will rethink their risky driver behaviour and become safe road users.  We hope they live happy, long lives…

©Karen Robinson, 2011



It’s National Volunteer Week 18 – 24 May 2020. The theme being “Changing Communities. Changing Lives” which I feel RTSSV’s volunteers strive to achieve each and every year!  Whether it’s helping with administration, assisting with telephone calls, and/or telling deeply personal road trauma stories at Road Trauma Awareness Seminars – all help to save lives and reduce serious injury caused by road trauma. Here is my hand up and thank you to all Road Trauma Support Services Victoria Volunteers. Please accept this wave a special smile of appreciation from my home and as one of RTSSV’s Metro Regional Coordinators.

 #NVW2020 #waveforvolunteers #RTSSV #NationalVolunteerWeek2020 Volunteering Australia Road Trauma Support Services Victoria



I am still painting, still story-telling, photo-taking and doing my volunteer speaking alongside my paid work with RTSSV.  These activities have enriched my life in ways that have been profound.  But none would have been possible if it was not for the support of so many people.  My dear husband, my sweet daughter, my one and only sister, other family members and friends,  Road Trauma Support Services Victoria’s team members being Chris Harrison – Manager for Education and other staff members and volunteer speakers; members of other Road Safety Stakeholder groups/organisations; and Gillian Scaduto of MIND Australia, a Carer Peer Support Worker along with Judy Bird – Creative Writing Tutor and Vicky Nicholls – Art Therapist; and fellow participants of my creative writing and art therapy groups.  I owe much to all…




© Karen Robinson – updated April 2018

POST-TRAUMATIC GROWTH:  Improving one’s sense of wellbeing using art, creative writing, photography, blogging and public speaking – my journey written by ©Karen Robinson.  Please click here for my latest blog news!