George Institute experts speak to Australian Parliament’s Joint Select Committee on Road Safety

George Institute experts speak to Australian Parliament’s Joint Select Committee on Road Safety

Head of the Injury Division, Associate Professor Julie Brown; Senior Research Fellow, Dr Kate Hunter; and, Head of the UNSW School of Public Health and Community Medicine and Honorary Professorial Fellow at The George Institute, Professor Rebecca Ivers appeared before the Australian Parliament’s Joint Select Committee on Road Safety to discuss the growing burden of injury and death on roads in Australia.

Associate Professor Julie Brown explained: “Road safety is a critical public health problem. Road transport injuries are the fourth leading cause of total injury burden in Australia. We think there is a need for greater acknowledgement across society and government that road related deaths and injury are one of our country’s current greatest public health challenges and they are not inevitable. They can be prevented.”

Representatives from The George Institute and UNSW attended the hearing in response to a submission developed in partnership with the Transurban Road Safety Centre at the Neuroscience Research Australia. The committee’s purpose was to inquire and report on steps that can be taken to reduce deaths and injury on Australian roads.

Dr Kate Hunter said that applying an equity lens to the burden of road injury in Australia is essential: “In reducing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander road injury burden, programs and initiatives must be Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander led and contextualised to community.”

Professor Ivers further explained: “One of the things we need to be aware of is that having long term, sustained funding that allows for ongoing delivery and evaluation of community-based programs are essential for injury prevention. Otherwise effective local programs continually start and stop and are unable to realise impact.”

The burden of injury in Australia is significant. According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 12,000 deaths a year are due to injury — 8% of all deaths. The number of hospitalisations due to injury has steadily increased each year over the past decade and now exceeds 460,000.

In recognition of the ongoing and substantial burden of injury, the Australian Government committed to developing a National Injury Prevention Strategy in the 2018-19 budget. In March 2019, The George Institute was appointed by the Federal Department of Health as the Project Lead to facilitate and write the Strategy.

The George Institute is a leading injury research centre and its Injury Division is a designated World Health Organization (WHO) Collaborating Centre in Injury Prevention and Trauma Care. The Injury team investigates solutions to prevent the world’s most significant injury problems and transform injury and trauma care globally. Harnessing the power of governments, markets and communities through research, advocacy and thought leadership, The George Institute is at the forefront of innovations to reduce the burden of injury.