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A new approach to addressing driver licensing issues within Indigenous communities across Australia
Aboriginal Australians are two to three times more likely to be involved in a transport related fatal crash and 30% more likely to be seriously injured from a road crash than non-Aboriginal Australians. In 2008, Aboriginal people made up 2.3% of the Australian population, but 26.1% of Australia’s prison population. Many were incarcerated for road traffic and driver licensing offences. Most jurisdictions have various programs that are designed to improve road safety outcomes and close the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous licensing rates. However, Austroads is now funding a number of national projects to: - develop a pre-learner national resource/tool kit to help educate Indigenous people in remote communities about road rules and safe driving behaviour, and - develop a culturally appropriate assessment tool that can be delivered in remote communities, and - examine and remove the current barriers that exist in jurisdictions that prevent Indigenous people in remote areas from being able to obtain a provisional licence. Austroads is the Association of Australian and New Zealand Road Transport and Traffic Authorities. If these projects are implemented successfully, then there is likely to be an increase in the number of Indigenous people in remote communities who understand the road rules, driver licensing restrictions and safe driving practices; are able to access the written road rules knowledge test and have their learning outcomes assessed for the purposes of obtaining a learner licence; and then transition from a learner licence to a provisional licence. By doing this, even a modest reduction in incarceration rates for Indigenous Australians as a result of driving offences, and/or a reduction in road trauma for Indigenous people, is likely to deliver significant cost savings to the community. In addition, if Indigenous people are able to obtain a provisional licence, then their ability to secure employment will also improve, thereby delivering additional social outcomes to communities.