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St.George Queensland Reds players Saia Faingaa and Chris F’Sautia have teamed up with Leighton Contractors today to assist Brisbane State High School students to become safe drivers.
As part of the Queensland Reds Indigenous Program, the Reds pair paid a visit to the local school to meet and offer their encouragement to Year 11 student Nick Buckley who along with classmate Joseph Niddrie were undertaking their free driving lessons as part of the Leighton Contractors Youth Drive Safe Initiative.
Leighton Contractors and Queensland Rugby joined forces in 2012 as community partners to complement each other’s work in delivering positive outcomes for Queensland’s young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and providing students with pathways from the classroom to genuine career opportunities through the Reds’ Learn, Earn, Legend! Program.
The Leighton Contractors Youth Drive Safe Initiative is a road safety education and training program that aims to create safer drivers and safer communities by offering packages of five hours of free professional driving instruction to students at selected secondary schools.
Young driver statistics:
(*Department of Transport and Main Roads)
• Young, newly licensed drivers have the highest crash risk of any road user group
• In the last five years, 82% of young drivers and riders have been at fault in fatal crashes they are involved in*
• In 2011, there were 72 deaths as a result of crashes involving young drivers or riders aged 17 to 24 years within Queensland – over 26% of the road toll*
• Indigenous Australians are two to three times more likely to be involved in a fatal road crash compared to non-Indigenous Australians*
• Indigenous Australians are underrepresented in driver licence ownership - presenting a key barrier to employment*
• Young people stand a greater chance of obtaining and retaining a driver licence if they understand how to be safe drivers from the start, and learn to value safety and the significance of their attitude on their behaviour.
F’Sautia, a former student of Brisbane State High, and Faingaa lent their support to the initiative and congratulated the students in taking the next step towards obtaining their licence.
Faingaa, of Tongan and Aboriginal decent, is an ambassador of the Queensland Reds Indigenous Program.
“Getting a licence is one of the first real steps you can take to becoming independent, it’s a big moment in everyone’s life,” Faingaa said.
“After turning 25 recently, I have been helping my cousin Grace to get up the required supervised driving hours on her learners permit and it’s a huge responsibility and one I take very seriously. Understanding what it means to be a safe driver and knowledge of the road rules are key.
“For many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people, difficulty in obtaining and retaining a driver’s licence can become a huge hurdle to educational and employment opportunities. So I think it’s great that Leighton Contractors Youth Drive Safe Initiative is assisting young people to develop a safe driving attitude which will provide long-term benefit.”
The initiative uses a structured 5 Lesson Plan focused on helping students develop not only practical skills but develop a safe attitude to driving, with lessons placing an emphasis on attitudes, vehicle control skills, safe driving strategies, eco-driving and vehicle experiences in a mix of real-life traffic conditions.
Hugh Boyd, General Manager of Leighton Contractors Northern Infrastructure, said the initiative is a key part of the company’s commitment to safety.
“Through our construction work, Leighton Contractors creates safer roads and we also aim to contribute to reducing the road toll by teaching young drivers to drive safely from the beginning,” Mr Boyd said.
“The harsh reality is that young drivers are the most at risk on our roads.
“Our road safety initiative has been running for five years in Queensland, and we have worked closely with road safety experts and master driving instructors to ensure that the initiative is based on best practice road safety education principles.
“Through the Leighton Contractors Youth Drive Safe Initiative, we are actively engaging Indigenous students to help them get and keep their licence, empower them to make better decisions on our roads and motivate them to drive safely.”
The employment and engagement of young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Queenslanders is a key contributor to Leighton Contractors’ and Queensland Rugby’s efforts to ‘close the gap’ between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.
Queensland Rugby General Manager of Game Development said the school-based learner driver initiative is another example of Leighton Contractors’ commitment to delivering positive outcomes for Queensland Indigenous youth.
“Leighton Contractors is a vital partner in our Queensland Reds Learn, Earn, Legend! Program,” Mr Hanham said.
“Through this relationship, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students are mentored through their final year of studies at high school by Reds staff and players, and through the Leighton Contractors’ partnership, they are also provided with career guidance, the opportunity to apply for a traineeship or an apprenticeship with the company, and further work-placement mentoring.
“Both organisations are committed to retuning positive outcomes for young Indigenous Queenslanders and our partnership in this important program delivers real and lasting opportunity to its participants.”
By the end of 2012, more than 15,000 students will have attended the Leighton Contractors Youth Drive Safe Initiative road safety education presentations, and more than 12,800 hours of professional driving tuition offered to over 2,500 students since its launch in 2008.
22 NOVEMBER 2017