Blacktown Advocate - 5th February 2003
An innovative program that helps traffic offenders become better drivers has been saved by a $20,000 grant from Blacktown RSL Club.
Ambulance Officer Graham Symes began the Traffic Offenders Program at Seven Hills in 1992 to educate drivers waiting to be sentenced for offences including speeding and drink-driving.
Program Honorary Chairman David Bamford said the Program received no government funding so the club's grant was critical. He said rising costs in recent years, particularly in public liability insurance had threatened to stop the Program until the club stepped in.
"Without the funding we can't run the Program, it's as simple as that," he said.
Since it began, more than 4700 young people have been through the Program, which has a 25 per cent success rate. The offenders are referred by Magistrates at 47 courts across Sydney. Mr. Symes said he developed the education program, which included eight lectures and assignments over seven weeks after discovering there was nothing available for young offenders.
"I went to a lot of car accidents (as an ambulance officer) and my two daughters were teenagers at the time," he said.
Mr. Symes paid for the program himself until 1998 when Mr. Bamford, a Blacktown Rotary Club member, came on board.
Blacktown RSL Club general manager Alan Middleton said speeding and drink driving caused many injuries and deaths. "We are happy to work with an organisation that is making such a positive difference to people's driving behaviour," he said.
Lectures are conducted by police, paramedics, solicitors and spinal injury, drug and alcohol specialists.