Rising cyclist death toll is mainly due to drivers, so change the road laws and culture

Rising cyclist death toll is mainly due to drivers, so change the road laws and culture


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Drivers are to blame for about four out of five accidents with cyclists.
William Murphy/Flickr, CC BY-SA


Peter Chambers, RMIT University and Tom Andrews, University of Melbourne

Recent reporting paints a picture of surging road deaths and failing safety strategies for cyclists. The Australian Automobile Association’s Benchmarking report records 1,222 road deaths in the year ending June 2018. And cyclist deaths in particular remain stubbornly high, even as average speeds, which affect road deaths, continue to decline. If cars are much safer than 25 years ago, why are cyclist deaths increasing, from 25 the previous year to 45 this past year?

Of the untimely road deaths the AAA reports, 1,100 are due to how drivers were driving. In Australia, drivers are to blame for at least 79% of accidents with cyclists. And roughly 85% of reported cyclist casualty crashes involve another vehicle, not a bike or a pedestrian. Driver distraction accounts for roughly 25% of accidents.

These stats highlight a clear pattern of deadly harm: drivers hitting people, because of how they’re driving, is 90% of the problem on our roads.

Read more:
Cars, bicycles and the fatal myth of equal reciprocity

What’s wrong with current safety strategies?

Calls are often made to install separation infrastructure and high-tech sensors in cars to fix the problem, as if the problem is cars and bikes mixing. These calls often follow the publication of reports or the deaths of cyclists in ways that make the news. Such claims are seldom met with critical scrutiny.

Although better infrastructure is needed and warranted, and high-tech sensors might reduce harm, people are still being needlessly killed. Mostly, that’s due to how people drive.

System-wide infrastructure and high-tech improvements are complex and take years or decades to complete. Installation has to be standardised and comprehensive to be truly effective. State-led infrastructure projects are often subject to budget blowouts. In crucial cases, the public has been left without the promised solution or service – regardless of whether it was publicly or privately led.

More deeply, calls for technical saviours are essentially wrongheaded because they disregard the root cause of the problems: driver behaviour – specifically, aggression and inattention. Separation of transport modes can’t fix aggression and inattention.

Indeed, separation contributes to irresponsibility by baking the assumption of danger and vulnerability into infrastructure. It works by diminishing the need for care and attention on the part of those responsible for the greatest harm: drivers.

This approach, we argue, reiterates a stigmatising, criminogenic understanding of bikes as inappropriate, unsafe and unwelcome on “our” roads. In this context, words are not weapons, but when they create aggressive drivers they do weaponise.

Read more:
More people will cycle when everyone accepts cyclists’ right to be on the road

We need to focus on primary prevention

We’re clearly failing one another here. One way to begin responding better is by taking wisdom and insight from primary prevention approaches to male violence against women. This starts by acknowledging the root cause of systemic instances of deadly violence is banal, routine and excused and explained away because of its alignment with dominant cultural values.

Read more:
Change the story: how the world’s first national framework can help prevent violence against women

The next step is to respond in ways that keep returning attention to the facts from best evidence. To repeat, whether you’re a driver, occupant, pedestrian or cyclist, roughly 90% of what causes death on Australia’s roads is driver behaviour.

For cyclists, the root cause of deadly harm is aggression and inattention. Drivers should be held to account and be pushed to change their behaviour and attitudes.

So what changes are needed?

Simple inexpensive changes in the law have been found to have dramatic effects on driver behaviour. These changes also work with existing infrastructure, technology, road conditions and our cultural expressions of human nature.

One change that’s in line with primary prevention and strong evidence of success is a move to a model of presumed liability for drivers. This would be a hard sell in light of current settings here, which support and excuse deadly violence by drivers because of the dominant motoring culture. But it’s proven to work in the Netherlands.

Read more:
Cars overwhelmingly cause bike collisions, and the law should reflect that

Another welcome measure is a recent initiative to reduce urban speed limits to 30km/h. This has just been implemented in one of Melbourne’s inner urban areas without too much fuss. According to the research behind it, you’re twice as likely to survive being hit at 30km/h as at 40km/h.

Time will tell, but evidence suggests this change will reduce harm and improve traffic flows. As with moving to presumed liability, it does so without expensive infrastructure and unproven gizmos, while following the wisdom of primary prevention by putting the onus on the root cause rather than the victim.

Finally, we urge that this issue be considered as one of universal access to safe transport infrastructure. It’s not about “cars versus bikes”; it’s about the simple right to get where you’re going safely and sensibly. This shouldn’t be a privilege that’s extended only to those with the resources and bodies capable of driving.

In light of this, it’s crucial we note that cars are deadly, that 90% of the problem is driver behaviour, and that the motor car fails on its promise of delivering safe, efficient urban transport.

Read more:
Contested spaces: ‘virtuous drivers, malicious cyclists’ mindset gets us nowhere

The Conversation

Peter Chambers, Senior Lecturer in Criminology and Justice, RMIT University and Tom Andrews, PhD Student, Law, University of Melbourne

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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There’s a gap between what people expect when they report cybercrime, and what police can deliver

There’s a gap between what people expect when they report cybercrime, and what police can deliver


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When victims report a cybercrime they expect someone brought to justice, but that’s not always possible.
Flickr/Blogtrepreneur, CC BY


Cassandra Cross, Queensland University of Technology

Two thirds of victims of cybercrime were not satisfied with the outcome of their reported offence, according an evaluation of the Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network (ACORN) that has finally been made public.

There is also a relatively low public awareness of the service and little evidence to support increased reporting or reduced repeat victimisation.

The ACORN was set up in November 2014 and the evaluation by the Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC) was carried out two years later, but the report was not published when completed.

Read more:
A record $340 million lost to fraud in Australia, says latest ACCC report

Given my own research, I was curious to know the findings, so I launched a Freedom of Information request. After a lengthy process, the report was released last month.

Up front, the report’s findings regarding the ACORN are not overly positive but it is important to see these in context.

What is the ACORN?

The ACORN is an online self-reporting mechanism for cybercrime offences in Australia. It is hosted by the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) but works with all Australian police agencies.

The ACORN targets four main offence categories:

  • online scams or fraud
  • issues buying and selling online
  • attacks on computer system or viruses
  • cyber bullying, sexting, online harassment or stalking.

Importantly, the ACORN does not investigate any of the reports itself. It operates as a referral mechanism based on a series of rules such as the jurisdiction of the alleged offender or victim, or where the money has been sent.

The ACORN had received more than 65,000 reports from individuals when the AIC was asked to do its evaluation of the service.

Victim satisfaction

The evaluation found a lack of satisfaction with the outcome of reporting via the ACORN. While there was support for the process itself, most victims were not satisfied with the outcome of their report.

This finding affirms my latest research that examined victim satisfaction with reporting fraud and the motivation behind reporting.

Many victims report to achieve an outcome, and see justice served through the criminal justice system. But we know that for cybercrime offences, this is not usually the case.

There are many legitimate reasons why police are not able to investigate cybercrime offences and achieve similar results to offline offences. The inherent lack of borders on the internet poses genuine challenges for police to identify, arrest and prosecute offenders.

This does not change the fact that victims are reporting cybercrimes with an expectation that police will be able to achieve this. The inability of police to deliver on these expectations creates large levels of victim dissatisfaction.

The evaluation says many senior police were correct in flagging this concern prior to the introduction of the ACORN.

In terms of investigations, available data found less than 1% of ACORN reports resulted in an investigation that successfully identified an offender, and less than 1% of further reports resulted in a successful prosecution. Of the victims surveyed, only three reported that they were notified their offender had been apprehended.

Clearly, arrest and prosecution is not a likely outcome.

The quality of information

Most police agencies have changed their policies to refer all cybercrime victims to the ACORN rather than allowing police to take a complaint in person.

Removing the interaction between a victim and a police officer arguably reduces the quality of the data. From my experience, victims provide details important to them, which may not be those relevant to police. The evaluation confirms this, saying many reports “contained insufficient information to justify further investigation”.

Many incidents reported through the ACORN were only attempts, as no money or details were lost on the part of the person reporting. These attempts are more appropriate to report through Scamwatch.

Many victims do not report the amount of money they actually lost, but rather the amount they believe they were entitled to. The evaluation also found that some victims exaggerated the amount of money lost in order to increase the chance that police would investigate.

Some victims reported the same incident multiple times in order to try and get a response from police.

In addition, 37% of survey respondents reported their incident to police via another means in addition to the ACORN. This included in person or over the phone. In this way, the ACORN is not always simplifying the process to report cybercrime, but may be duplicating it and causing further confusion.

While these points are understandable, it exacerbates the challenges faced by police in processing complaints in a timely manner.

The reporting of other offences

The finding of most concern is the reporting of offences that do not fit within the main categories of the ACORN. These include offences against children and those relating to family, domestic and sexual violence.

Police have rightly prioritised the need to screen these reports and take appropriate actions. But in doing this, their ability to focus on cybercrime incidents is diminished.

Clearly a self-report, online mechanism is not appropriate for these offences and work on how to overcome this is critical.

Lessons from this evaluation

It would be unfair to blame police for all of the negative findings in the evaluation report. Instead, it points to some of the bigger conversations and decisions needed to improve responses to cybercrime at a macro level.

The ACORN is reportedly undergoing improvements to the system based on the evaluation findings, but these are not yet publicly known.

Read more:
The abuse tactics fraudsters use to break the hearts and wallets of those looking online for love

The large disparity between the expectations of those reporting cybercrime compared to the reality of what police can deliver, needs immediate attention in terms of educating people about the limitations and constraints on what is realistic in their case.

The communication between police and those reporting also needs to be improved. From my research, victims overwhelmingly wish to be acknowledged on what has happened, and appreciate honesty in what can and cannot be done in their case. This stems any unrealistic expectations and alleviates the uncertainty of their case.

The evaluation brings sharply into focus the challenge of gaining justice for victims of cybercrimes. It is arguably clear the current criminal justice system is not the most appropriate vehicle for this. But this raises an ongoing question I personally struggle with, is there a viable alternative?The Conversation

Cassandra Cross, Senior Lecturer in Criminology, Queensland University of Technology

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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How to tell your child you’re getting divorced

How to tell your child you’re getting divorced


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What you tell your children about your impending divorce should depend on their age.
from www.shutterstock.com


Rachael Sharman, University of the Sunshine Coast

While some kids may be lucky enough to skate through their parents’ separation relatively unscathed, the majority are going to suffer at least some short term, if not longer term distress.

As an adult, you’ve likely forgotten just how central your family was to your sense of stability and even identity. Children have yet to develop autonomy, independence or a secure sense of self; instead, their entire frame of reference is strongly centred around their family. When that framework is broken, their world can feel as though it has fallen apart.

Importantly, the suggestions I make here relate to (relatively) amicable separations, where both parents have the best interests of their children in mind. This advice will do little to ameliorate a high conflict separation where one or both warring parents are out to destroy the other.

Read more:
Fairytale no more: when love turns to hatefully ever after

Under five year-olds

Very young children (under five years) have a limited understanding of relationships. What they will notice is that Dad leaves and doesn’t come back for a long period of time (days feel much longer to a five-year-old), or that they’re suddenly being shunted between two homes. The primary issue here will be separation anxiety.

Explain the situation in the simplest possible terms: “Mummy and Daddy are living in two different houses now. One week you will live with Mummy and the next with Daddy, but you can phone (the other parent) every day, and you will always have teddy (favourite toys) with you at both houses”. Keeping rules and expectations consistent between homes should provide some sense of stability and familiarity.


For young children, the family unit makes up the most of their life and identity.
from www.shutterstock.com


Primary school-aged children

Primary school aged children are extremely egocentric, and may believe a bad outcome has been caused by them (I didn’t clean my room so now Mum is leaving me). As irrational as this may seem to an adult, this style of thinking is completely normal for a child of this age.

Anticipate this by explaining very clearly your separation has nothing to do with the child and you will always be there for them. Something along the lines of “Mum and Dad can’t live together anymore because some people find it too hard to stay friends when they get older”.

Read more:
Who decides what’s best for children?


Both primary school and teenage kids can be black and white in their thinking and may cast each parent into a good versus bad role – this can be difficult to overcome and may take time to resolve.

While you should avoid involving children of any age into the specific “whys” behind your divorce, with mature teenagers this might prove difficult if there’s been a highly visible reason (heavy drinking, mental illness, irresponsible financial decisions, known infidelity).

In this case, the best you can do is avoid demonising the other parent and suggest to older children they discuss any concerns they have about that parent’s behaviour with them directly. There’s little point in dodging questions with ineffective platitudes such as “you’ll understand when you’re older”. Keep the details of your conflict private but be upfront in response to questions they have about you, your personal conduct and your plans for the future.

Always remember, if you start bagging the other parent – you are effectively criticising 50% of your child’s DNA, and you are asking them to choose sides between two people they love. This will only serve to cause further damage to your child.

Older teens may have some strong opinions about their living arrangements, and may not be inclined to abide politely by shared-care models or even family court orders. Listen to their concerns (which are very likely centred around access to friends, school/sports activities) and be sensitive and flexible. You and your ex are turning their lives upside-down and they might be quite angry about that, so prepare for a parenting outcome that may not be ideal for you.


Don’t be tempted to criticise the other parent to or in front of your child. It will only serve to cause them harm.
from www.shutterstock.com


Consistency in co-parenting

Regardless of age, try to be consistent in your co-parenting, and take personal responsibility for following through with all of your reassurances and promises.

Avoid introducing further “disrupters” onto the scene. It takes months to years for children to process and feel secure in their new family structure. Introducing a new boy/girlfriend into that mix soon after this upheaval, or engaging in radical lifestyle changes is highly insensitive at best.

Understand that your desire to move on and reinvent yourself might not be appreciated by children who need time to grieve the loss of their family unit, and adapt to your and their new situation.

Read more:
Separated parents and the family law system: what does the evidence say?

Rachael Sharman, Senior Lecturer in Psychology, University of the Sunshine Coast

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

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Business owners’ control of their work-life balance is the fine line between hard work and hell

Business owners’ control of their work-life balance is the fine line between hard work and hell


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A variety of personal reasons motivate people to run a small business.


Park Thaichon, Griffith University; Sara Quach, Griffith University, and Scott Weaven, Griffith University

We live in a society in which people are trying to do more each day. Both work and life are worthy competitors for time. Yet the complex demands of modern society have redefined the notion of work-life balance.

Work-life balance has different meanings for different people and is often linked to individual preferences. We interviewed franchised and independent business owners in Australia to understand their work and life priorities.

Although not always aware of it, most people in small business reconcile competing work and life demands on an ad hoc basis. This is because a variety of reasons motivate small-business ownership.

Most owners, however, want control. Being one’s own boss, having the freedom to make decisions and determining one’s own rewards are key determinants of control. All are important to business owners.

Work and life priorities

Remarkably, only six of the 30 business owners we interviewed considered work-life balance important when establishing their businesses. Five who had families clearly stated that their desire and ability to allocate time to family drove their choice to be in business.

Many owners were unable to articulate where their lives were out of balance, although they expressed concern about having to skip or compromise on family and social activities. They used terms such as time poor, burdened and frustrated to describe their feelings when juggling priorities.

Some owners had not connected their state of frustration with their lack of opportunity to allocate time effectively.

One said:

Getting up to go to work because you want to. Knowing there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, knowing you’re in control of your own destiny… I kid you not, it has been three years of hell.

However, many owners admitted not having previously recognised this as a work-life balance issue.

This suggests it is highly likely that work-life balance is a concern for them although they saw it more in terms of excessive work demands rather than forgone opportunities to participate in other esteemed activities.

The table below reports the most common responses from business owners regarding their attitudes toward work-life balance and prioritising activities.


Author provided


Irrespective of how work, family or community are prioritised in a work-life balance model, interviewees reported a sense of imbalance when they lose control in setting and achieving their priorities.

Interestingly, the factors the business owners identified as limiting their opportunity for work-life balance were also those that minimised their discretion when making choices, particularly in allocating their time.

This harks back to the need to feel “in control”, which a business owner articulated:

OK, if I was owning a franchise, for example … probably I would have to open from 6am until 10pm whether I am busy or not. In my business here, I open from 8am to 5.30pm and there you are. I’ve got my own right to shut the business whenever I want and I’m there for my kids at home.

Control over work versus control over life

Ownership of a small business provided most individuals with greater control over the work aspect of their lives. However, many interviewees felt overwhelmed by the multiplicity of roles or one that dominated others, thus limiting the opportunity to broaden their lives.

Some also found it difficult to acknowledge that there are trade-offs. Clearly, there is a need to feel in control of their own lives in whichever role they play.

Interviewees felt they were in control when the decisions they choose to make were based on what they wanted to achieve. This implies that work-life balance requires better consideration of the variety of roles at hand, the availability of the resources to make the preferred choices, and a better system to allocate preferences to those roles.

Business owners need to understand what they want to achieve, how these objectives are prioritised and how to allocate energy to realise these priorities.

Read more:
The more work-life balance we have the more we want: global study

Many policies designed to enhance work-life balance are employee-focused and do not apply to owners of, say, coffee shops or similar businesses. Access to flexible hours and work conditions, for example, does not apply to businesses with predetermined hours.

The use of technology at home has also subliminally extended the workday for many. As such, if location determines work-life balance, then owning one of those small businesses will not improve work-life balance.

The traditional notion of work-life balance might be inappropriate for small-business owners. The satisfaction they derive from operating their own business affects how they allocate time and work.

In particular, some owners were happy working long hours as they were benefiting and they derived a sense of achievement from self-employment. They felt a sense of control and empowerment over decisions they made about their lives rather than being subject to external forces.

The independents could only rely on family and staff. Franchisees could leverage a support structure provided by their franchisor. However, many cautioned that inappropriate support or non-delivery of promised support in the franchise system – such as being required to attend meetings at the end of a long day – often added to the pressure on franchisees.

The Conversation

To sum up, business owners have full responsibility for business outcomes. As a result, they find it difficult to remove themselves from the daily operations and enjoy a sense of work-life balance unless they take control of their multiple roles and have reliable support to stand in their shoes.

Park Thaichon, Lecturer and Cluster Leader, Relationship Marketing for Impact Research Cluster, Griffith University; Sara Quach, Lecturer, Griffith University, and Scott Weaven, Professor and Head, Department of Marketing, Griffith University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

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Australians think our politicians are corrupt, but where is the evidence?

Australians think our politicians are corrupt, but where is the evidence?


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Former NSW minister Ian Macdonald (left) and union boss John Maitland are just two of the prominent figures who have been swept up in anti-corruption investigations at the state level.
Joel Carrett/AAP


Yee-Fui Ng, Monash University

A recent survey by Griffith University has found Australians’ trust in government is sliding. Trust and confidence in government fell in the last year to 46% at the federal and state levels.

There are also serious concerns about officials and politicians using their positions to benefit themselves or their families (62%), or favouring businesses and individuals in return for political donations or support (56%).

Worse still, there has been a 9% increase since 2016 in perceptions that federal members of parliament are corrupt (85% saying “some” are corrupt, 18% responding that “most/all” are corrupt).

What has caused the loss of public trust?

There is a public perception that a small elite is reaping large benefits in Australian society in terms of political influence and its flow-on dividends.

In Australia, the “game of mates” is flourishing. There’s now a revolving door in politics with many politicians, advisers and senior government officials leaving the public sector to become well-paid lobbyists.

Add to that the appointments of political “mates” to commissions, tribunals and cushy ambassadorships and the blatant misuse of parliamentary entitlements such as helicopter trips on taxpayer funds.

Political parties are also accepting millions of dollars in donations from lobbyists and others interested in influencing policy outcomes.

All of this adds to the perception that the system is rigged – and not in favour of the person on the street.

So, there is evidence of corruption in Australia?

The question is whether the perception of corruption is matched by reality.

Australia has fallen steadily in Transparency International’s global corruption index, from 8th place in 2012 to 13th this year. But even so, Australia is the 13th-least corrupt country in the world, which is still a respectable ranking.

More alarming is the fact that one in 20 Australian public servants said in a survey last year that they had seen a colleague acting in a corrupt manner. This figure has doubled in the past three years.

In the 1980s, there were incidences of large-scale corruption that rocked the country, culminating in the Fitzgerald Inquiry in Queensland and the WA Inc Royal Commission in Western Australia. These scandals led to the resignations and imprisonments of various former ministers and officials.

Although we have not sunk to such depths since then, state anti-corruption commissions, such as the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption, have uncovered various instances of corruption in recent years. The NSW ICAC’s inquiries have led to the resignations of several politicians, as well as the conviction of former MP Eric Obeid.

Another classic case of corruption exposed by the ICAC led to the downfall of former Newcastle lord mayor, Jeff McCloy. McCloy famously bragged that politicians treated him like a “walking ATM” and admitted to giving two MPs envelopes of cash amounting to AU$10,000.

There is also a question about what we don’t know. Many more politicians may be getting away with corrupt activities because Australia doesn’t have a federal anti-corruption body.

Do we need a federal anti-corruption commission?

In one word: yes.

All states have anti-corruption bodies that have brought to light many indiscretions by politicians that would have otherwise remained hidden. The federal government is lagging behind in this crucial area.

At the federal level, there is no transparency in backroom dealings by those in power, coupled with lax rules that can be abused. In these circumstances, corruption can take root without us knowing about it. An anti-corruption agency would be a powerful deterrent against improper behaviour.

There is strong public support for a federal anti-corruption body in the Griffith University survey, with two-thirds (67%) of Australians in favour of this.

The Labor Party has pledged to introduce a federal integrity commission if it wins the next election.

There are also other activities that do not amount to corruption, but nevertheless shows an undue influence on government. Ideally, a federal anti-corruption commission should sit alongside a broader package of reforms that impose stronger rules on lobbying and political donations, as well as a code of conduct for MPs, policed by an independent commissioner.

This would form an interlocking political integrity system that would keep the politicians honest.

Our faith in government has been eroded by a lack of transparency and the perception that those in power are enjoying unfair benefits. Creating robust institutions, rules and processes that can act as checks and balances on governmental power is key to a vibrant democracy – and will be the first step towards rebuilding public trust.

Yee-Fui Ng, Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Law, Monash University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

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