Remembering the toll of road tolls

At the 2007 ‘Time for Remembering’ service, 336 plates on the steps of Parliament House represented the number of road victims in 2006.

At the 2007 ‘Time for Remembering’ service, 336 plates on the steps of Parliament House represented the number of road victims in 2006.

Since Victoria began recording official road toll figures back in 1951, nearly 40,000 people have been killed on our state’s roads. The number of injuries related to road accidents are in the vicinity of 15 times that number. Hearing these statistics, it’s not difficult to conclude that virtually everyone in the Victorian community has been affected in one way or another by road accident trauma.

Every November since 2001, the Vic/Tas Synod of the Uniting Church has joined with the Transport Accident Commission, Faith Communities Council of Victoria, the Humanist Society of Victoria and others, to host a multi-faith ‘Time for Remembering’ memorial service.

Andy Calder, Disability Inclusion worker for the Vic/Tas synod’s Commission for Mission, said the service exists to provide a space for people who have been affected by road trauma to come together and feel supported.

“We acknowledge that road trauma has a significant ripple effect. There are people who are bereaved, people who are injured, people who care for those who have been injured, witnesses and emergency services personnel. They are all affected,” he said.

While the ceremony is multi-faith, it is also open to people of no faith. It seeks to represent the diversity of the Victorian community.

“Each year we have a different choir sing at the service. This year, the Brunswick Women’s Choir will be performing. The choir usually sings songs that are thematically appropriate to the occasion, though not explicitly religious. They often pick up on the themes of restoration and recovery,” Mr Calder said.

A support group of people affected by road trauma has been developing an art project with the help of a therapist. The culmination of the project is a two-meter high tree made out of felt called ‘The Forever Tree’. It will be on display at the ‘Time for Remembering’ service.

“Some of the songs will pick up on that theme, the idea of ‘The Forever Tree’. The people involved in its creation will also be given a chance to talk from their personal perspective about their experiences, the art project, and perhaps the benefits of being part of the support group.”

For the past several years, Mr Calder has been working on developing a state-wide permanent memorial for people who have experienced or are experiencing road trauma – an idea which originated out of the annual multi-faith ceremony.

The design concept for the memorial, currently under consideration by the state government, would be situated on the Hume Highway between Victoria and NSW.

All who wish to attend are welcome to come and be a part of the service on 17 November– to remember those who have died, those who continue to suffer, and the impact of road trauma on our community.

For more information on Mission and Service funding please visit: www.victas.uca.org.au/givingisliving

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