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Newcastle Permanent Charitable Foundation provided a $110,000 grant towards the project.

Friday, 30 August 2019

The loss of a young life in a motor vehicle crash impacts not only the individual but also has a profound impact on their family, their friends, school and community. So when a single serious crash in late 2006 claimed the lives of four teenagers from the same Northern Rivers town the effect was felt by every member of the community. 

Losing four young men tore the social fabric of Lismore, however, in a show of resilience and solidarity the parents, friends and community set about repairing that hole by together making a safer future for young drivers. 

In the wake of the tragedy community group Southern Cross LADS was formed, LADS being an acronym for “Learn About Driving Skills”. LADS focused first on lobbying government for new road rules that would decrease risk for young drivers and then on its flagship project, a driver education facility that would allow drivers of all ages to practice driving skills in a controlled environment. 

What ensued was a 12 year campaign to fund, design and build the facility with the help of the community. The result, in the words of LADS Secretary Rob Wells , whose son Bryce was killed in the crash, is a facility “built by the community, for the community”.  

Kevin Hogan MP, Federal Member for Page officially opened Stage 1 of the Southern Cross LADS Driver Education Facility on Wednesday 21 August at the newly built site in Lismore. Stage 1 of the Facility is the driver training track which features diverse road conditions, including various bends and variable surfaces so drivers can safely practice in a ‘real-world’ environment.

“This will be a great facility, not only for learner drivers and people who want to update their driving skills, but also for older drivers, people with disabilities, for safety training and for motorists learning caravan hitching and towing,” Kevin said.

“This Facility will play a role in helping to reduce the tragic loss of life on our roads by fostering better hazard-perception skills and providing a safe environment for young drivers to learn the skills of low-risk driving.” 

Newcastle Permanent Charitable Foundation provided a $110,000 grant towards the project. 

Charitable Foundation Chair, Phil Neat said that the Charitable Foundation Board was especially proud to support this grass-roots project that harnessed local support over more than a decade to deliver a significant piece of social infrastructure.  

“The very nature of regional communities means people are required to travel by car more often, for longer distance and at higher speed meaning the risks are increased, especially for younger and inexperienced drivers. As regional Australians we are 4 times more likely to die in a road accident than our metropolitan counterparts. This Facility will help build a safer future for young people in Lismore and the wider Northern Rivers region,” Phil said. 

Southern Cross LADS Chairman, Paul Rippon said the opening of the Facility was the culmination of more than ten years of fundraising, including incredible community support, the tireless efforts of committee members, generous donations and key sponsors. 

“The community has been incredibly supportive of Southern Cross LADS and has helped keep the dream alive.” Paul said.

Southern Cross LADS
Kevin Hogan MP, Member for Page; Josh Booyens MLM; Paul Rippon, Chair Southern Cross LADS; Isaac Smith Mayor, Lismore , Sarah Lane Branch Manager; Phil Neat, Chair NPCF

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