Indigenous people make up around 28 per cent of the population. They have consistently represented around 50 percent of the road deaths. These high levels are a significant concern to all Territorians.
The high representation of Indigenous people in road crashes is linked to geographical, cultural, social, educational and economic issues.
Some 75 per cent of Indigenous people reside outside the major regional centres, with many of these living in remote communities. There are approximately 77 recognised major Indigenous communities and 800 other locations with five to 100 people living there.
Remote and rural areas of Australia have their similarities. Factors exist that may never change - isolation, long roads, gravel surfaces, dust and animals. These, mixed with factors such as poorly maintained motor vehicles, drink drivers, intoxicated pedestrians, speed, fatigue-driving, riding in the back of utilities, and non-wearing of seatbelts have resulted in an unacceptable record of crashes.
Census indicates that over 70 per cent of Indigenous families in the Northern Territory speak their native language in their home. In some remote areas, this proportion exceeds 95 per cent. This highlights that there are a range of considerations that must be addressed when developing and delivering road safety messages. Cultural differences, language differences, and community protocols are taken into consideration in delivering the Indigenous Road Safety program.
The Northern Territory Government’s Indigenous Road Safety Program aims to reduce fatalities of Indigenous people involved in road trauma within the Northern Territory.
A key objective of this program is to work more closely with Indigenous communities and organisations to develop targeted and relevant educational campaigns and resources. Some recent initiatives include:
DriveSafe NT Remote is a two year trial program with the aim to get Indigenous people licensed in remote communities across the Territory. The program has been developed in partnership between the Northern Territory Government, the National Road Safety Council, the Territory Insurance Office and FaCASIA.
The DriveSafe NT Remote team will visits 14 selected communities for one week every month over a four month period, to deliver theory education and practical driver training. Find out more about DriveSafe NT Remote.
Road Safety officers visit communities to discuss safer road awareness and to develop working partnerships with relevant organisations. Road Safety staff can organise visits to schools and community groups to deliver targeted road safety instruction.
In the Northern Territory, Indigenous people have very high levels of road deaths. To address this, the Department of Transport's Road Safety Branch, Artback NT and Yirra Yaakin came together in 2008, 2009 and 2010 to present a road safety performance and workshop package called Muttacar Sorry Business.
This free performance and workshop packaged tackled the issues of drink driving, risk taking behaviours, non-wearing of seatbelts and overcrowding in vehicles. Muttacar was designed to be performed in the bush by Indigenous people for Indigenous people.
In 2010 the Road Safety Branch in coordination with the Indigenous Policing Development Division and TIO presented an Indigenous Road Safety Day in communities of the West Arnhem Victoria-Daly and Tiwi Shires. The Indigenous Road Safety Day was two hours of activities that included the performance of Muttacar Sorry Business by Muttacar cast and the delivery of the STARS Program (Stop Territory Aboriginal Road Sadness) by senior Aboriginal Community Police Officers.
The tour included 26 scheduled performances travelling across over 4000 km with the final performance held on the Tiwi Islands.