Dear Mr. Ray Martin Mr. John Stanley Mr. John Laws,
Just a note to let you know of a wonderful program I have become aware of because of my 19 year old son. I was going to call your program but thought I could explain it better in a letter.
The program (you may have heard of it) is called T.O.P. – Traffic Offenders Program. It is for people who have already been to court, have lost or will lose their licence for drink driving, speeding, reckless driving etc., and who will be sentenced after attending the program at another court hearing. It is run (and started) by an Ambulance Officer – Mr. Graham Symes. The course runs over 7 sessions for 2 hours once a week.
After every session the offenders must do an assignment relating to that session, and hand it to Graham the following week. The culmination of the assignments go to the Judge/Magistrate on the return to court.
All of the people concerned, including Graham are there on a voluntary basis to educate these offenders. The community centre hall was full most of the time. Most of the offenders are there alone but I got this incredible insight into what they do there, as I rang and spoke to Graham before my son’s program started and he invited me to attend. I am so glad I did, otherwise I would never have known fully, as, being 19, my son would not have related fully what was discussed.
One of the wonderful 2 hour sessions – on Spinal Injury Prevention, was given by a fantastic young man by the name of Craig Cannane. He is a paraplegic – a motor bike accident when he was about 16. He was a fantastic inspirational speaker who spoke so honestly and openly about the accident, and what happened to him afterwards. He is now 25 (I think), has 2 children, & he is hoping to represent Australia in wheelchair Basketball in the Olympics next year.
Another exceptional speaker was Senior Sergeant Jim Prendergast. He has a very interesting background and had everyone in the hall in the palm of his hand the way he spoke. He had a way of making everyone in the meeting feel very special and worthwhile, spoke with such a down-to-earth manner, yet you could feel the respect in the room.
My son has gained an enormous amount from this course – I have seen an awareness grow through the weeks. The last two presentations he attended were ‘Ambulance’ and ‘Police’ which showed graphic videos of accidents – so often car loads of young people – dead.
These graphic videos really affected him and should be shown to people before they get to the point these offenders were.
I just wanted to let you know about the program as I believe this is the only one as it was started by this one man. As we all know, we are losing far too many of our young people (particularly young men) to road accidents. Graham Symes is an older man who still works as an Ambulance Officer.
Thanking you Yours sincerely
Pam (name and address supplied)