ROAD trauma research is no longer helping rural road users so La Trobe University has proposed to creating a research facility in Bendigo to address the toll.
Having missed out on funding to start a rural medical school, La Trobe will go to the federal government before the election with this proposal instead.
Professor Pamela Snow, head of the Rural Health School, said $5 million would set up the hub.
“Over time we expect a research centre such as this to become self funding through external grant success,” Prof. Snow said.
“To get it established, to get infrastructure in place to get the right, very senior calibre of researchers on site we would be looking at $5m over five years.”
The proposal has received widespread support from law enforcement agencies desperate to stop the annual road toll that disproportionately impacts on rural road users.
In 2017, 60 per cent of deaths on Victorian road occurred in regional areas, yet only 24 per cent of the population lived outside the Melbourne metropolitan area.
“Bendigo is amazingly well positioned to address this extremely complex and important social problem of road trauma,” Prof. Snow said.
“Victoria has been the leader nationally and internationally over the last 40 to 50 years in reducing the road toll.
“But we seem to have hit a point when we are no longer making significant progress with respect to rural road trauma.
“What is not being addressed is that more people die on country roads relative to the number of people who drive on country roads, so initiatives that have borne fruit in metropolitan areas are not yielding the same returns on country roads.”
The university has attracted the support of Bendigo MP Lisa Chesters who goes into the federal election next year.
Ms Chesters said she would champion the project but stopped short of promising funding.
She said it should also source state government funding given it would be working with VicRoads and the Victorian health sector.
“What we are really talking about is the people who have been injured that for the rest of their lives are living with the consequences of road trauma,” Ms Chesters said.
“It is one of those projects that just makes sense.”
– Sharon Kemp