TAC and Independence Australia partner up
The Transport Accident Commission has extended its partnership with Independence Australia to deliver a program aimed at preventing spinal cord injury among young Victorians.
SpinChat, now in its fourth year, involves young people with spinal cord injuries visiting high school students to talk about how their injuries happened and their lives before and after.
Since 2011, the program has visited more than 25,000 students in nearly 200 schools. The extended partnership will see SpinChat delivered to more than 12,000 students a year for the next three years.
The program reaches out to secondary students because research shows young people aged 15-24 are most at risk of spinal cord injury. Independence Australia CEO Peter Turner said there were 350 to 400 new cases of spinal cord injury each year in Australia.
”The majority are a result of road accidents, water-related incidents and falls that may have been preventable. Most of our SpinChat speakers were teenagers themselves when they acquired their injury, so as a result they have a unique ability to relate to their student audiences,” Mr Turner said.
“Thanks to TAC’s support, Independence Australia will deliver SpinChat to more than 12,000 Victorian students per year for the next three years, helping to raise awareness of spinal cord injuries and encouraging young people to minimise their risks,” Mr Turner said.
TAC chief executive officer Joe Calafiore said the program was about risk minimisation, demonstrating the consequences of high-risk activities, including dangerous driving.
“This program shows young people just how much they have to lose if they participate in risky behaviours, whether that is on our roads or elsewhere,” Mr Calafiore said.
Transport accidents have been responsible for 75 spinal cord injuries in Victoria alone in the past five years, with the lifetime cost of caring for people with these injuries ranging from $1.5 million to $5.8 million.
“Spinal cord injury has a devastating impact on a person’s life and it ripples through their entire network of family and friends so it’s crucial that we do what we can to raise awareness and prevent these injuries,” Mr Calafiore said.
SpinChat also gives speakers valuable skills in public speaking and presenting, often assisting them to get back into the workforce.
“Many of the SpinChat speakers are lifetime TAC clients so this program is also an opportunity to help them regain some independence.