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 Supports Services Victoria Organisation turns 21!
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 whom attended on this evening in recognition of such an achievement.
NB: Please click
here to view a PDF for RTSSV’s 21 years booklet!
About My New Role with RTSSV – RTAS Facilitator
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 of 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).
About My Volunteer Speaking
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.
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.
Something I am Proud About
Recently, in 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
My ‘Reaching Out To Sons’ Painting Story
Volunteer speaking at RTAS with RTSSV has only been part of my journey over recent years. Art and creative writing has 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 center 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 anyone 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
I am still painting, still story-telling, photo-taking and doing my volunteer speaking and all 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, the team of people, being staff and volunteers with Road Trauma Support Services Victoria, 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 – December 2015