RSE News – exciting developments as RYDA continues through the pandemic

Issue # 35

Welcome to RSE’s online News. In this edition we’ll share some exciting news from the Tasmanian Government, introduce you to our new National Program Manager, update you on a few other changes to our team,  and let you know what we’ve got planned for Yellow Ribbon National Road Safety Weeks + more.

In this issue – scroll down or click to jump ahead:

Tasmanian Government’s new GLS recognises the importance of RYDA
New faces and farewells in the RSE team
New classroom resources in the works
Gearing up for Yellow Ribbon Road Safety Week


Tasmanian Government’s new Graduated Licensing System recognises the importance of RYDA

The Tasmanian Government has long recognised the importance of the RYDA program, which it funds through the Road Safety Levy to allow every Tasmanian student to access the program free of charge.  As the program reached it’s 20,000th student locally back in 2017, then Minister for Infrastructure, Rene Hidding said, “the program’s ongoing success is a great example of how we will achieve our target to reduce the numbers of deaths and serious injuries on Tasmanian roads to zero by 2050”.

The Government’s commitment was further cemented recently as they announced that RYDA would be recognised in their updated GLS for novice drivers. Understanding that young drivers are most at risk when they first get their Ps and start driving solo, the new system will help reduce the risk. The changes see young drivers getting more on-road driving experience and skills to keep them and their passengers safe with an increase to logbook hours from 50 to 80, including 15 hours of night driving.  Learn more about the changes here.

Recognising the great value in the time spent at RYDA developing cognitive skills, creating road safety strategies with their peers, understanding their personal risk profile and building a motivation for safe road use, the Government announced that students who attend RYDA are elegible for 5 hours credit towards their logbook.

Congratulations and thank you to the hardworking Rotary Volunteers who make RYDA possible right across the state.


John Elliott joins the team as National Program Manager in Australia

We are most excited to introduce you to our new National Program Manager, John Elliott who started with RSE mid September.  We sat down and asked him a few questions to get to know him a bit better.

What were you doing before you joined RSE?
I spent most of the past two decades in higher education, marketing university courses to prospective undergraduate and postgraduate students, as well as a bit of teaching across various marketing subjects. This involved a lot of going out to schools to provide advice on how to make the right decision around future education. Choosing a course is, like driving, one of the big steps towards independence for young Australians, and I have been lucky to have been able to play a part in that for so many. Before that I worked at Cunard Line as Marketing Manager (Asia Pacific) and other tourism industry sector roles. Sometimes I miss working with cruise ships, but not so much this year!

What attracted you to the role of National Program Manager at RSE?
It perfectly blends all of my previous experience with some new and exciting challenges. Importantly, the more I learnt about RSE and the RYDA program, the more passionate I felt about joining. There is no better cause to be working on than the safety of young Australians. Before I started I got to see a Workshop Day run, which further cemented my enthusiasm, especially seeing the impact the sessions can have on the students in the room. Also, I am in the process of finishing getting my second son through his L plates, and have already realised so much that I now want to revisit in both my son’s learnings.

What do you see as the major challenges or opportunities with the role?
I’m really looking forward to the opportunity of working with the Rotarians throughout Australia. I have met some of our volunteers already at some recent RYDA workshops, and they are a wonderful group of Australians. Everyone working on the delivery of RYDA programs has struggled with the limitations imposed by COVID-19 restrictions, and these don’t look like going away any time soon. So a big challenge is going to be in trying to plan for such an uncertain 2021 in terms of the nature of what the workshops will look like. Luckily the team here are fantastic so there is no challenge that can’t be tackled.

What’s your favourite driving story?
When I was a uni student, I bought my first car, a 1962 EJ Holden, and drove it to university to show it off to my friends. One asked if I could give her friend a lift to the station, to which I was only too happy to oblige. And that is how I met my wife, to whom I have now been married almost 25 years. I’ve told my boys that story so many times, but there is no way I would ever let them drive a car like that (it pre-dated seatbelts) now. They will have to meet their future partners in a much safer car!

What’s next for you?
I have already had a few conversations with people keen to “meet the new Greg.” His shoes are big to fill, but I’m looking forward to walking some way in them. I really look forward to getting in touch with our partners, and can be reached at the super easy email address of [email protected] if you want to arrange a time for a chat.

Welcome John, we can’t wait for you to meet the whole RYDA family as the country begins to re-open and you head out to our regional venues.


A new face for regional Australian support

Part of John’s support team includes our Regional Program Administrator.  At the beginning of the year we farewelled, Irune Peñagaricano and due to the global pandemic decided not to immediately re-fill the role.  Instead, the magnificent Jane Ward, who is well known to and loved by our Rotary community stepped up to provide this support.  Now, as the RSE business become busier and Melbourne remains, unfortunately, locked down, Jane will be moving back to her National Communications role and our long time, and equally magnificent, Victorian Program Coordinator, Catherine Smith, will take over providing temporary cover for regional administration, nationally.  Catherine can be reached at the same email address as always, [email protected].  We thank Jane for her wonderful work to support our important regional programs and welcome Catherine to the role.


Greg Rappo retires

Sadly, in September we farewelled Greg Rappo who reached his hard earned retirement after 12 years with RSE.  We thank Greg for the enthusiasm and dedication he has shared over this time and wish he and his wife Marlene (who attended her fair share of RYDA programs and functions) a very happy and healthy retirement together.  Never shy in front of a camera, we found a few photos that celebrate some of the moments we shared with Greg over the years.

New classroom resources in the works

We’re constantly updating and adding to the kit of resources we’ve created to help teachers, students and parents continue their road safety journey.  We’re even reaching out to some of our friends to help us create them.  Currently we’re working with a number of our partners to draw from their expertise to create valuable learning tools – the first of which will be a blog on understanding insurance, put together with the help of AMI in New Zealand.  Watch this space, it will be out soon.

We continue to work with schools to co-design tools to help them with specific issues in their community.  In the coming days we’ll be reaching out to Tasmanian schools with a classroom activity designed to give students a deeper understanding and acceptance of the role of a graduated licensing system.  This will help prepare them for the changes in the system when it rolls out in December.  We’ve also got a resource to help Victoria teachers discuss the challenges of post-restriction driving with their students.  Just one of the ways we can work with Government to promote safer roads for all.


Gearing up for Yellow Ribbon Road Safety Week

Road Safety Week, like most events in 2020, is going to look a little different this year in Australia.  But that’s not going to stop us from spreading the word across Australia and New Zealand and raising awareness of this important topic.  With our partner’s help, we’ll be handing out our annual Supporting Excellence Awards at small live gatherings and virtual celebrations.

This year New Zealand will be running our annual supporting excellence awards at the Royal NZ Yacht squadron on Sunday the 8th November and this will be followed by the National Launch of Road Safety week and the lighting up of the Auckland Harbour bridge in yellow.   In 2016 RSE formed the Yellow Ribbon Alliance with our partners and with Brake, the road safety charity which organises NZ Road Safety Week, to draw attention to the issue of road trauma through symbolism that includes the yellow ribbon and the lighting up of icons, buildings and bridges.  We are delighted that Vector Lights chose to support us for this event.  Alongside them we have several other icons and bridges being lit up including;  the Auckland Harbour Bridge by Vector Lights, Whangarei Bridges, Anzac Parade Bridge in Hamilton, ‘Welcome to Upper Hutt’ Fantail, Michael Fowler Centre, Memorial Arches Overbridge in Christchurch and the Oamaru Opera house.

Also watch out for some of Australia’s most iconic structures which will be lighting up yellow for the week.

We’ve learnt enough this year not to plan too far ahead so we’ll let you know how you can lend your voice to Road Safety Week a little closer to the date.  Keep an eye on our yellow ribbon webpage (AUS | NZ) for updated information.