Traffic Offenders Program

Program Founder Profile

Graham Symes OAM - Let's take a closer look

From Little Acorns do Big Oak Trees Grow

A seed of an idea that germinated in the mind of Graham Symes in the late 1980s after much work bore fruit on 5th March 1992.

Graham, concerned with the ever increasing road accident toll, decided that the problem required an aggressive approach in an endeavour to actively reduce the carnage occurring on our roads.

He believed that people had to be educated, in particular first offenders, to recognise the senselessness of reckless driving. He believed that the majority of people charged for traffic offences were mainly law abiding citizens who simply needed someone to point out the error of their ways.

After consultation with Magistrates and Senior Police Officers on the Central Coast and in the Sydney Metropolitan area and having examined other programs over eighteen months Graham developed the Traffic Offenders Program that commenced in Blacktown on 5th March 1992.

The Program is an educational pre-sentencing program that focuses on those offenders referred by the Judges or Magistrates of the Courts, who they believe are redeemable.

An offender's solicitor or the offender may request they attend the Program but the final decision rests with Judge or Magistrate. The Program consists of eight presentations spread over seven weeks.

The main thrust of the educational Program is to make offenders aware of the costs to themselves and/or others in terms of the possibility of loss of life, mobility and employment.

'Prevention is better than cure'

Acknowledgements
2012 Australia Day Honours
In the 2012 Australia Day Honours (26th January) Graham Symes was the proud recipient of a Medal (OAM) in the General Division for service to the community through the Traffic Offenders Program.
2010 NSW Volunteer of the Year Award - Top award for TOPS volunteer

Graham Symes was given the top honour of NSW Volunteer of the Year for 2010 at a special ceremony at NSW Parliament House on Friday 3rd December 2010.

It has been almost 20 years and nearly 12,000 graduates since Graham started his Program on 5th March 1992 and he was recognised for the countless hours spent volunteering his time.

Graham was humbled by the award and said he was shocked to receive it. 'I'm very surprised,' the former paramedic said. 'There are so many other people that deserve it more than me.'

Prior to receiving the State Award Graham was named Central Coast NSW regional volunteer of the year as he currently resides at Wadalba. All NSW regional award winners then became eligible for the NSW Volunteer of the Year Award.

Premier's Inaugural Award for Emergency Services

On Monday 2nd September 2002 Graham Symes was presented at Government House, by the Right Honourable Bob Carr MP, Premier of New South Wales, with an inaugural Premier's Award for Emergency Services.

The Award was in recognition of Graham's commitment and dedication in co-ordinating the Traffic Offenders Program since March 1992. Graham was nominated by the Chief Executive of the Ambulance Service of New South Wales, Mr. Greg Rochford and Graham was one of only two Ambulance officers nominated for an individual award.

Rotary's Paul Harris Fellowship Recognition

At the Rotary Club of Blacktown City's 40th Birthday function in November 2001, Graham Symes was presented by the then President Bob Bensley with a Paul Harris Fellowship Recognition. The Recognition acknowledged Graham's dedicated service to the community through the nine and a half years as the Co-ordinator of the Traffic Offenders Program (TOP) Inc.

Graham is a deserving, dedicated and committed member of the community. His initiatives have directly resulted in saving lives on our roads and 'educated offenders to change their attitudes and demonstrated behaviours to their driving'.

The Rotary Club of Blacktown City has supported Graham since September 1998 when we formed an Advisory Board of Management of which David Bamford is Honorary Chairman.

The Paul Harris Fellowship Recognition is named after the founder of Rotary, Paul Harris, and is bestowed on a person after a contribution of $US1,000 is made to The Rotary Foundation. Donations to The Foundation are used for international humanitarian and educational programs.