The Road Ahead : 01-Aug-2011
WWW.ROADAHEAD.COM.AU 68 THE ROAD AHEAD AUG/SEP 2011 MEMBER ESSENTIALS ROAD TRAUMA LOWER INSET: JBRT PRODUCER/DIRECTOR SANDRA COOK AND ONLINE PRODUCER KERRY SANDERLAND. ABOUT 1600 AUSTRALIANS die as a result of road crashes every year. While that number alone is astounding, spare a thought for the countless other victims -- parents, siblings, partners and friends -- left behind to deal with the loss. Then there are those dealing with serious injuries resulting from road trauma, their families and friends, whose lives have been irreversibly changed in an instant. We might hear a brief news report about these smashes, or read about it in the newspaper, but beyond that these people are left to deal with the disaster alone. Sandra Cook is one. Her life took a tragic turn in 2004 when her father was involved in a head-on collision in Adelaide. A woman driving in the opposite direction crossed the median strip and slammed into Sandra's father's car. He died 11 days later after never regaining consciousness. Sandra's family and life as she knew it were shattered by the loss. Throughout the grieving process, Sandra yearned to talk to people who understood what she was experiencing. The people she did meet, like her, felt voiceless despite having so much to say about road trauma. Joining forces with screen producer/ writer Kerry Sunderland, Sandra set about developing a platform that would give victims of road trauma a voice. The website, Journey Beyond Road Trauma, was born. Unlike other social networks, Journey Beyond Road Trauma is an online sanctuary specifically designed for those affected by road trauma. The site gives people a creative space in which they can share their stories and move through the grieving process. W hether the crash was yesterday or 15 years ago, the site can be used as an intimate place of sharing with family or friends, or to engage with a broader online community. People who join the Journey Beyond Road Trauma community can set up a profile, connect with others affected by road trauma, share their story with blogs and video and watch short documentaries. There is even the opportunity to mark the scene of the collision with a virtual roadside memorial mark on a Google map. Journey Beyond Road Trauma provides a contact point for people to access counselling services, legal services, victims of crime support, road safety education programs and disability carers. A key objective of the site is to harness the power of the personal story and use it to educate others about safe driving practices and improve safety on the road. "Each and every crash that occurs on our roads is avoidable," Sandra said. "Journey Beyond Road Trauma provides a platform where individual members can channel their grief into positive action." www.journeybeyondroadtrauma.org STORY DEB ECCLESTON journey to a better place Victims of road trauma now have somewhere they can go and know they are not alone.