The Blacktown Traffic Offenders Program
The Blacktown TOP is the original traffic offenders program used as the template for the NSW Traffic Offender Intervention Program introduced in 2007. The program is delivered to offenders required by Transport for NSW to undertake a driver education course under the Increased Traffic Offenders Penalties program. Additionally, the program works closely with those offenders being supervised by NSW Community Corrections who have a driving offence (typically, these offenders have a drive while disqualified offence).
The program receives community funding through Blacktown City Council, as well as Rotary, and is thus available to all offenders as a free service. The program is staffed by volunteers.
Blacktown TOP is fully online due to the current COVID-19 pandemic. Completion of online study cannot be done in less than 7 days, and offenders typically take 4-6 weeks to complete the online program. When conducted in face-to-face classes, Blacktown TOP is an eight-week program requiring attendance one night each week for 2½ hours each night.
The program primarily draws offenders from the western Sydney region, which is multicultural and diverse and has a high immigrant population. The program is designed to support all offenders regardless of literacy levels and cultural heritage. As a fully online program, however, it is increasingly drawing offenders from throughout regional and rural NSW as well as the greater Sydney metropolitan area.
The program accreditation for Blacktown TOP requires that offenders undertake the following units of study:
- The Safe System;
- At the Crash Scene;
- Introduction to First Aid;
- Policing and Compliance;
- Road Safety (or, as an alternative unit for L- and P-platers, Novice Drivers);
- Roads & Roadsides;
- Drugs & Alcohol Issues;
- Legal Issues (or, as an alternative unit for suspended/ disqualified/cancelled/never licensed drivers, Unlicensed Drivers);
- Avoiding Reoffending;
- Injury Awareness;
- Insurance Issues;
- Motor Maintenance;
- Vehicle Technologies;
- and there is an optional unit, Returning to Court.
During the program, offenders complete and submit nine assignments: seven session assignments relating to the units of study (excluding the Returning to Court Unit), as well as a Commencement Assignment and a Completion Summary to finalise the program.
Offenders are also provided with the opportunity, on a voluntary basis, to extend their learning experience through participation in activities such as self-tests and opinion surveys on a range of topics such as use of mobile phones while driving, decision making and bias, attitudes to speeding, drinking behaviours, use of seat belts, and the likely adoption and use of new vehicle technologies.