Aboriginal Road Safety Health Lens

The Aboriginal Road Safety health lens is a collaborative project between: 

  • SA Health
  • Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure (DPTI)
  • Attorney-General’s Department (AGD)
  • South Australian Police (SAPOL)
  • Department for Correctional Services (DCS)
  • Department of Further Education, Employment, Science and Technology (DFEEST).

There is a positive correlation between road safety and driver licensing. The South Australian Government, through South Australia’s Strategic Plan, the Seven Strategic Priorities, and Closing the Gap has committed to reducing the disparity in mortality and morbidity between the Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal population. 

Interaction between driver's licensing and health and wellbeing

Road safety impacts significantly on the health and safety of Aboriginal people in South Australia. Aboriginal people have 3 to 5 times higher rates of road death and 1.5 to 3 times higher rates of serious injury from road trauma than non-Aboriginal (Harrison & Helps 2009). Unlicensed driving also contributes to an over-representation of Aboriginal people in contact with the criminal justice system for traffic and licensing offences.

Mobility is a key determinant of health and wellbeing and a basic human need. Transport is the mechanism by which mobility is achieved. A system that does not equitably support people to obtain and retain licences can prompt inappropriate behaviour, including driving unlicensed, driving under-age, and involvement in road traffic accidents due to lack of experience and knowledge.

A driver licence provides many significant benefits, from proof of identification to increased access to education, training and employment, key services such as health, and social connections. Having a licence is linked to broad wellbeing outcomes for Aboriginal people and communities.

About the project

The intention of this project is to collaboratively identify ways of increasing Aboriginal healthy life expectancy by improving road safety through increasing safe mobility options. The project will focus on drivers’ licensing and diversionary programs that support Aboriginal people to obtain and retain their drivers’ licences in urban, regional and remote South Australia.

This will be done by identifying a combination of policies and strategies to reduce the barriers and increase support for Aboriginal people to obtain and retain their drivers licence. Service provider workshops have been undertaken in the Southern and Northern Adelaide regions, Mount Gambier, Port Augusta and Ceduna. 

About the workshops

The workshops were designed to examine and validate key Aboriginal road safety issues identified by the literature review (PDF 780KB) and focused interviews. They provided an opportunity for service providers to confirm barriers and suggest enabling factors to improve the ability of Aboriginal people to obtain and maintain a driver’s licence within a South Australian context.

Seven cabinet strategic priorities

The project supports South Australia’s strategic priority 'Safe Communities, Healthy Neighbourhoods'.

South Australia’s strategic plan targets

  • T79: Aboriginal healthy life expectancy - increase the average healthy life expectancy of Aboriginal males to 67.5 years (22%) and Aboriginal females to 72.3 years (19%) by 2020.

Other targets this project supports include:

  • T6: Aboriginal wellbeing - improve the overall wellbeing of Aboriginal South Australians.
  • T22: Road safety - reduce road fatalities and serious injuries by at least 30% by 2020.
  • T51: Aboriginal unemployment - halve the gap between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal unemployment rates by 2018.
  • T53: Aboriginal employees - increase the participation of Aboriginal people in the South Australian public sector, spread across all classifications and agencies, to 2% by 2014 and maintain or better those levels through to 2020.


Harrison, J. and Helps, Y. (2009) Health and Wellbeing Partnerships - Health, Wellbeing and Equity: Aboriginal Health – Driver Licensing. Presented at Professor Ilona Kickbusch Thinker in Residence Partners Day, Adelaide, South Australia.