It’s our Ele­phant

Narrogin Observer - - News - Pa­trick Walker Ex­ec­u­tive Gen­eral Man­ager, Ad­vo­cacy and Mem­bers RAC rac.com.au

In 2015, a life-sized African ele­phant sculp­ture — born from the re­mains of seven crashed cars — first ap­peared in Nar­ro­gin. Since then, RAC’s Ele­phant in the Wheat­belt has been on a mis­sion to high­light the ele­phant in the room; the un­ac­cept­able si­lence sur­round­ing road trauma.

The Wheat­belt road fa­tal­ity rate is 11 times higher than Perth, with the long-term im­pact of road deaths and se­ri­ous in­juries rip­ping through the hearts of lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties and leav­ing fam­i­lies grief-stricken.

Hav­ing spent a decade in the Wheat­belt, I have wit­nessed this first-hand.

In re­cent years, the Ele­phant has spread its safety mes­sage to schools, com­mu­nity events and lo­cal shows across all cor­ners of the Wheat­belt. From Northam to South­ern Cross, Wa­gin to Dal­wallinu. Dur­ing its trav­els, the Ele­phant has in­spired thou­sands of con­ver­sa­tions, shin­ing a light on lo­cal he­roes along the way.

Through­out its jour­ney, the Ele­phant has dis­pelled many myths. Some of th­ese have been con­fronting, in­clud­ing that two thirds of peo­ple killed on Wheat­belt roads are in fact lo­cal res­i­dents, and that most Wheat­belt crashes are caused by de­lib­er­ate driver choices, such as speed­ing, drink driv­ing, dis­trac­tion and not wear­ing a seat­belt.

To keep con­ver­sa­tions alive, a new chil­dren’s sto­ry­book — ‘My Fam­ily, The Ele­phant and Me’ — was de­liv­ered to lo­cal pri­mary schools and com­mu­nity re­source cen­tres ear­lier this year. Co­in­cid­ing with the book de­liv­er­ies, six unique road safety mu­rals were com­mis­sioned and painted across the re­gion.

The Wheat­belt has em­braced our Ele­phant with open arms, and on be­half of ev­ery­one at RAC I thank you for let­ting us into your towns and for bring­ing th­ese im­por­tant dis­cus­sions into your com­mu­ni­ties.

RAC’s Ele­phant in the Wheat­belt started a long-over­due dis­cus­sion about the dev­as­tat­ing im­pacts of road trauma. Our hope is it re­mains an en­dur­ing re­minder of road safety for gen­er­a­tions to come.

There is an ele­phant in ev­ery­one’s com­mu­nity, this is our ele­phant. We must con­tinue to work to­gether to save lives and stop se­ri­ous in­juries on our roads.

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