Road Safety — Speech in the House of Representatives 28/02/2024

February 28, 2024

Hansard 28/02/2024  House of Representatives

Mr LLEW O’BRIEN (Wide Bay) (19:30): Every time we get behind the wheel, we make choices—choices that can mean life or death. If you or your fellow motorists make the wrong choice, it can have a catastrophic impact. One thousand two hundred and seventy-three people died on our roads in 2023, up 7.9 per cent from 2022. The impact of crashes is felt by families, friends and communities, and this is why the work of the Australian Road Safety Foundation is so important.

The foundation works with all sectors of the community to find practical solutions to reduce the risk of road crashes and save lives. Road crashes are mostly preventable, and the foundation focuses on delivering awareness campaigns, education, research and advocacy to engage with the community and spread the message that we all have the power to be the change we want to see on our roads. Every year, the foundation delivers national campaigns like Fatality Free Friday, which is held in May, Rural Road Safety Month, which is held in September, and the Australian Road Safety Awards, which recognise road safety advocates for their important work.

Educating young people about their responsibility on the road is another important initiative from the foundation. In 2020 they launched RoadSet, a free interactive online education tool designed for year 9 students, which utilises engaging gaming animations to encourage good decision-making on the roads. Road trauma comes at an almost $30 billion annual price tag, but there is no way to quantify the life sentence of emotional suffering that is its legacy. I commend the foundation’s work to keep Australia’s roads safe.

The Little Blue Dinosaur Foundation was born of a tragedy. In 2014, Michelle and David McLaughlin took their three children on a beach holiday. Michelle and David were looking forward to spending long summer days with their family and making wonderful memories that would last a lifetime. Instead, in the blink of an eye, they experienced a tragedy which would change their lives. On a hot summer afternoon, four-year-old Tom was hit by a car and passed away on the side of the road in his mum’s arms. As a father of three kids, I just can’t fathom the grief and the pain that Michelle and David experienced and will continue to experience for a long time—forever. The loss of a child must be the most distressing event for any parent. Michelle and David have channelled their trauma into action by setting up the Little Blue Dinosaur Foundation to honour Tom’s memory and teach kids about road safety, especially at holiday time when it’s in unfamiliar places.

In 2021 the foundation received a Commonwealth road safety initiative grant for a study into child road trauma. One of the key recommendations arising from that study was about how important it is to hold the hands of a child under 10 years of age around roads and around traffic. Hold them tight, as our children’s lives are so precious and fragile. I asked my fellow MPs to be ambassadors for the Little Blue Dinosaur Foundation and encourage local governments, schools, preschools and childcare centres to be involved with its holiday-time campaign and help make Tom’s legacy a powerful one.


In the spirit of Australia, I acknowledge all citizens who contribute to making our nation the greatest on earth.

I acknowledge our defence force personnel, past, present, and emerging, for their service to our nation, and particularly those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the defence of Australia.

I also acknowledge the Australian taxpayers who, through their hard work, pay for the infrastructure, health, education, and emergency services that keep our proud nation healthy, safe, and prosperous.