$1.5m boost for innovative road trauma recovery program

A ground-breaking new partnership will give Victorians impacted by road trauma access to facilitated conferencing with other people involved in their accidents, as part of their recovery journey.

The $1.5-million agreement between the Transport Accident Commission and RMIT University will see the University’s Centre for Innovative Justice deliver ongoing restorative justice services for people directly or indirectly affected by road trauma.

The innovative program will provide people with avenues to have their ‘justice needs’ met by offering a safe process to bring people together to have a facilitated dialogue. This could involve supporting people who have been injured, or family members of someone who has died, to meet with the driver responsible for the harm.

RMIT ran a successful two-year pilot of the restorative justice culpable driving program, with participants reporting positive experiences that aided their recovery. RMIT also partnered with TAC to design a model for their clients.

TAC CEO Joe Calafiore said it was a ground-breaking new agreement, which would see the services expanded and offered for at least the next three years.

“Every day at the TAC we see the significant harm that road trauma causes and we know that, in order to recover, there are many people who have justice needs beyond what we can provide through our scheme,” Mr Calafiore said.

“Our partnership with RMIT’s Centre for Innovative Justice in delivering this program has enormous potential to help more of our clients meet their needs and assist in getting their lives back on track,” he said.

While the TAC already provides compensation and support for clients such as medical, financial and therapy, if clients have unmet justice needs as a result of road trauma, it can be a significant barrier in their recovery.

RMIT Centre for Innovative Justice Director Rob Hulls said that restorative engagement could address certain justice needs that can’t be met by legal processes, financial payments, counselling and medical treatment.

Mr Hulls said people who retained a sense of injustice about their trauma had poorer health and recovery outcomes than those who did not hold those attitudes.

”Our research has shown that restorative justice practices can help people impacted by road trauma in their recovery journey,” Mr Hulls said.

“We are incredibly proud to be partnering with the TAC to better meet the needs of clients and help them heal.”

The TAC’s investment in the program will see it resourced by RMIT with expert full-time facilitators and management, while it will be accessible via a referral pathways program, and independently evaluated.

About the Centre for Innovative Justice:

RMIT Centre for Innovative Justice (CIJ) researches, advocates and applies innovative ways to improve the justice system with a particular focus on therapeutic jurisprudence, restorative justice and non-adversarial dispute resolution Restorative justice responds to crime and other forms of harm by focusing on how people have been affected, rather than questions of whether the law has been violated. Restorative justice practices bring together the people most directly involved in the crime or harm to participate in a safe, respectful dialogue, supported by a neutral facilitator. The CIJ offers direct access to restorative justice processes via its restorative justice practice arm, Open Circle.

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