Upwey Tecoma club takes the wheel with safe driving

Upwey-Tecoma footy and netball club encourages safe driving in line with the TAC's program and $10, 000 prize reward. picture: supplied by Alex Bantock

By Gabriella Vukman

Following in the footsteps of last year’s initiative, the Transport Accident Commision (TAC) has set a $10,000 incentive for local sporting clubs to advocate for road safety.

The Upwey-Tecoma Football and Netball Club is once again partnering with the TAC and AFLV to champion road safety among their players and community.

Club secretary and captain of the Upwey-Tecoma senior women’s footy team Alex Bantock said, “this year is the first year that we have had an u18s and u19s team”.

“It’s a new structure for the league and we recognise that there’s a lot of young people around the club that are new to driving and obviously there’s a big culture in footy of arriving at the game together and then celebrating afterwards so there’s a lot of work that needs to be done in that space,” Alex said.

“You look at the area and there’s a number of accidents that are involving young people so we need to encourage safe driving.”

The TAC sends out a set of criteria that they want clubs to address.

Alex said, “You start off looking at the criteria and make sure you are addressing it. Part of our commitment from last year was continuing our messaging. But there are new guidelines that have come out now on how to address the TAC program this year.”

“10,000 is the maximum you can be allocated and basically it is a sliding scale from there on inwards,” Alex said.

“They’re looking for you to be a bit creative in different ways that you can get their messaging out there.”

Last year the Upwey-Tecoma Football and Netball Club created a movement centred around the theme ‘who are you coming home alive for.’

Alex said, “We put it out to the community and said ‘send us group photos of your reasons to arrive home alive.”

“We got all these different responses. The captain of the men’s football team got a photo with his children wearing his jumper saying ‘my reason to arrive alive’. So we got a lot of unexpected community engagement in it. People taking photos of their pets in jumpers. It was really lovely to see the community coming together over something like that. It was a little unexpected.”

“If you walk into the clubrooms, the first thing you see when you go up the stairs is that we have printed out and framed all the photos that our community put together. It’s the first thing that you see when you arrive at the club. Our reason to arrive alive. And it’s the very last thing that you see when you leave the club.”

With each element of the criteria accounting for a monetary sum, the Upwey-Tecoma club wants to go above and beyond.

“We tried to do something a bit more personal. We didn’t really just want to tick the boxes, we wanted to be something that became a part of our culture,” Alex said.

The TAC also sent out surveys on how to check vehicles to ensure that they are safe.

Alex said, “We’re a community that unites young people together. We need to be proactive for that sort of thing and one of things we are doing is encouraging vehicle safety.”

“How to get home safely from a function which is a big thing. Setting up designated drivers and looking after your mates and that sort of stuff,” Alex said.

“With the introduction of our 18s and 19s team it’s going to be focussed heavily on that particular age group just because they make up such a large portion of our community now.”

According to the TAC, statistics show that Red P-platers are seven times more likely to be injured or killed driving at night than fully licensed drivers.

Alex said, “The whole idea of leaving the club on a Saturday evening. It’s just that reminder as you get in the car. Am I alright to drive?’”

“It’s pretty early on in the campaign at the moment but we are just really hoping to do something right for our community and protect our community in the best way that we can,” Alex said.

The Upwey-Tecoma club is looking to improve upon last year’s $6,800 and push for the full $10,000.

Alex said, “Obviously community clubs need that sort of thing and with the addition of the new teams we’re looking for new trainers, new equipment and new resources to try and facilitate the five footy teams and the four netball teams. We are running a full house so every bit counts.”

According to the TAC, in the Yarra Ranges Shire in 2023, 11 lives were lost from unsafe driving.

TAC Executive General Manager of Community Jacqui Sampson said, “One of the most effective ways to tackle road trauma is changing driving behaviours and attitudes, and this program enables us to speak directly with communities through local footy and netball clubs.”

“This program is particularly important in the Yarra Ranges region as we know footy and netball club players and volunteers travel hundreds of kilometres every year for games and many of those trips are on high-speed regional roads,” she said.

This year the TAC is prompting clubs to tackle the topic of speeding as one of the main catalysts for serious crashes.

“Low-level speeding is a major concern. Going a few kilometres over won’t save much time but travelling five kilometres an hour less could mean the difference between death and avoiding a crash altogether,” Jacqui said.

“We’re calling on the leaders of Yarra Ranges clubs to be road safety ambassadors and help cultivate a culture that values road safety by leading by example.”