Estimates show road traffic crashes and their consequences cost Australia up to $344 billion per year. While crashes are a leading cause of death and injury, there is no dedicated road trauma support service in Western Australia.
The Western Australian Department of Health funded a Curtin University research project to make recommendations on the formation of such a service.
Dr Lauren Breen, from Curtin’s School of Psychology and Speech Pathology, coordinated the project, in consultation with a stakeholder reference group of representatives from government and non-government agencies as well as community members affected by road trauma.
“Existing supports and services are inadequate in meeting the varied needs of people affected by road traffic crashes because appropriate supports are difficult to identify and costly to access, are limited due to time delays or staffing resources, and available only in certain regions rather than being State-wide,” Dr Breen said.
“A road trauma support service in WA is urgently required to provide sustainable, coordinated, timely, and appropriate peer support and professional therapeutic interventions for road trauma victims, family members, witnesses, and for others who are adversely affected by road trauma.”
Dr Breen said the psychological repercussions of road crashes run through entire communities.
“The impact left on affected individuals can reach far beyond physical injuries or shock,” she said.
“Psychosocial consequences may include intense grief, post-trauma reactions, psychiatric disorders, social isolation and stigma.
“People can experience significant decreases in quality of life, restricted opportunities for leisure, carer burden, and considerable financial costs.”
Dr Breen studied the road trauma support services operating in other states to see firsthand the operations and resources each service had, and interviewed staff.
The analysis of each existing service resulted in 22 recommendations for a Western Australian model.
“Our recommended service arrangement provides sustainable peer support and professional therapeutic interventions for road trauma victims, family members, and for witnesses and others who are adversely affected by road traffic crashes,” Dr Breen said.
The Road Safety Council of Western Australia will meet later this month to consider the recommendations.
Dr Lauren Breen, School of Psychology and Speech Pathology, Curtin University
Tel: 08 9266 7943, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Kristy Jones, Public Relations, Curtin University
Tel: 08 9266 9085, Mobile: 0402 517 300,