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Overcoming the Cultural Divide Part II - Lessons unlearnt.

Somssich, E

Aboriginal / Community

ACRS conference 2008

This paper looks some of the impacts of legislative change, the Federal government intervention and other political policies and the way they have impacted on driver training and licensing programs in remote areas of the NT from a practitioner’s point of view. It further looks at the long term social costs some of these well meaning policies have on marginalised community groups such as the indigenous people in the Northern Territory, how not having a license can have a roll on effect on road safety outcomes and overall disfunctionality, loss of empowerment and community disengagement.

This paper also looks at issues confronting indigenous people in their struggle to gain a driver license, how some of these policy issues fly in the face of previous lessons learnt when trying to empower and engage indigenous people rather creating yet more barriers.

• Why is it when something finally seems to work someone changes the rules?

• We need to have a national system, one size fits all.

• It’s the 80/20 rule you can’t please everyone.

• But every other state has it why should we be different (however does it work in other states?).

How do statements like these act as an impediment to indigenous learning and engagement, how is this related to indigenous road safety outcomes, and have policy makers stopped listening?

Aboriginal people whilst making up 30% of the total NT population still account for over 50% of all serious and fatal road crashes. Most drivers involved are still unlicensed. In a previous paper I presented on the positive programs and initiatives in NT to address driver licensing and training in remote communities. Some of these programs were developed in partnership with WA Road Wise and Charles Darwin University and at the time were seen as innovative and responsive in the way they engaged community and overcame barriers.

“Lessons unlearnt” further looks at what has worked in the past and what doesn’t work.

• How driver training and licensing can be an integral part of indigenous self determination and community capacity building.

• The challenges to training in communities and issues arising when comparing apples with oranges as is the case with mainstream unlicensed drivers as opposed to remote indigenous unlicensed drivers

• Innovation versus blanket policy

• Is a TV advert really education?

• Impacts on confusing and sometimes opposing policies that influence indigenous communities, Federal, state, regional and local and where does this leave road safety. 2008 Joint ACRS-Travelsafe National Conference – Non-Peer Reviewed Papers p.352 This paper aims to create healthy debate and look outside the square of policy and foster interagency collaboration when working with in the difficult area of indigenous education and road safety not to, in any way criticise Government policy.