Bless this Road Part 1: Road Safety Workshop

At Bless this Road, our road safety workshop takes place in the small meeting room in the Uki Hall. We begin at 9:30 am with morning tea. Then we hold a hard-hitting two-hour workshop to explain – and work through – the principles of a Safe System approach to road safety. Our audience blends several grieving communities: family and friends of Karl’s, family and friends of Matilda and Cecilia Bevelander, family and friends of Uki victims, first responders and other helpers and members of the Uki community.

Steph Vajda and John’s son, Liam Bevelander film the whole day’s events. We are still refining the film of the Bless this Road event.

Kyogle Mayor Danielle Mulholland speaking to the road safety workshop

Dr Lori Mooren

We have a leading road safety expert to guide us, Dr Lori Mooren, who earlier in her career was responsible for road safety for the whole state of New South Wales.

Dr Lori Mooren speaking at the road safety workshop


Kev Cracknell presents an in-depth analysis of his research into the state of the Kyogle Road at the crash site. No Council officers visited the site after the crash that killed Karl, so we depend on Kev’s year so road safety experience and his detailed photographic analysis for a deeper understanding of the many critical weaknesses in the road design and maintenance that could have contributed to all the deaths and injuries that occurred at that site.

Kev Cracknell speaking at our road safety workshop

Michelle Walker

We also were blessed to have an expert graphic facilitator (and local Nimbin resident), Michelle Walker, a leading authority in graphic facilitation, who does graphic recording of the whole workshop. (See

Below are the two panels of Michelle’s workshop recording.



We began with a road safety workshop for about thirty participants who registered in advance, responding to our invitation.

Objectives of this workshop:

  1. Understanding the legal and governmental framework that governs how local councils deal with road crashes (and especially fatalities) in rural areas in Australia.
  2. Working out what the field of road safety can learn from the recent (2015 and 2016) crashes and fatalities on the Kyogle Road near Braeside Drive, Uki.
  3. Exploring the gaps in road safety knowledge that this workshop could contribute to filling by discussing these crashes and fatalities.
  4. From the perspective of the field of road safety, exploring what would be ideal outcomes – for policy and practical applications – in cases such as these that involve injuries and fatalities on rural roads in NSW.
  5. Exploring forms of community engagement that would be beneficial in rural areas such as this one into the future to: (1) build and strengthen community capacity about road safety; (2) enhance road safety initiatives; and (3) reduce injuries and fatalities as a result of road crashes.
  6. Exploring key steps necessary to bring about a fundamental improvement in the way that local governments and other authorities deal with road safety issues in rural areas in Australia.

Participation by Tweed Shire Council

We had hoped to have a presentation by Tweed Shire Council in response to several questions we had provided to the Council, but at the very last minute, the Councillor was unable to attend, to our huge disappointment.

Among the things we did at the workshop was to present the perspectives of family and friends of road victims (Wendy Sarkissian, John Bevelander, and Kev Cracknell). In session 2, Lori Mooren addressed the question: “What is the Safe System approach to road safety in Australia?” We then teased out the primary and generic points that emerged for the field of road safety from considering the circumstances of the six fatalities in 2011 and 2016 on Kyogle Road near Braeside Drive.

We then addressed the specific protocols or initiatives (within the official and regulatory environment) that must be in place to ensure that: (1) there are appropriate responses when serious injury crashes occur; (2) all agencies and levels of government have a supportive attitude; and (3) they coordinate well.

In our final session, we attempted to produce a communiqué from this workshop that presented our community vision of the future – for a total systems approach to responding to road fatalities and injuries. I facilitated this session, which looked at road design, human behaviour, how official bodies are involved, how to nurture a respectful, helpful altitude amongst all players, how to achieve a more joined-up approach, community advocacy and support, and a plan so that more fatalities do not occur. We asked what forms of reporting and data and information collection and sharing are necessary (such as crash maps).

I published advice from workshop participants online in the World Transport Journal: Wendy Sarkissian, “Bless this Road: A Unique Approach to Community Education and Healing Road Trauma,” World Transport Journal, December 2018: 43-54:

A sombre topic

Our community workshop topic is a sombre one: it’s all about road safety and road deaths. Not appropriate for carnival dress.

Not quite yet!