Dr John Birrell – WD2 Road Safety Practitioner of the Year Award

Bill Hewett introduced the fifth annual presentation of this award with the following:
  • Risk is the likelihood that something goes wrong.
  • When you drive a car, you risk injury or death.
  • Modern technology has reduced that risk, but it’s a risk, nonetheless.
He noted that Dr John Birrell as Police Surgeon from 1957-1977 worked tirelessly to ensure Victorians understood and accepted the evolution of modern technology to help reduce risks in motoring, and went on to say that Victoria Police Western Region Division 2, which encompasses Warrnambool, Moyne, Corangamite, Glenelg and Southern Grampians Local Government areas took up the challenge identified by Birrell and have continued to work tirelessly to educate drivers and enforce safety.

Bill then announced that Sgt Darren Smart from Hamilton Highway Patrol was to be recognised as this year’s awardee.

It was noted that Darren had been recognised by his peers for his outstanding work around Road Safety, and that he had made a significant contribution to reducing the road Toll in our region over the past year.

Further points noted included:-
  •  20 year member of VicPol
  •  17 years at Hamilton Highway Patrol, including 2 as Sgt-in-Charge
  •  Highly qualified and respected member
  •  Previously involved with Western District Community Road Safety Council
  • Awarded Victoria Police Service Medal and Victoria Police Medal of courage
In responding, Darren said that he was greatly honoured to be so recognised. He did not know a lot about Dr Birrell, but had studied him up and now understood what a privilege it was to be given an award bearing his name.

Dealing with nasty road trauma was really the number one job, and dealing with the families of victims led him to want to do something about reducing the impact.

It was a challenging job, but most rewarding.

Darren directed the $2500 from his award to the current appeal by Western District Health Service provide an MRI facility in Hamilton, thus obviating the need for Hamilton district people to travel to Warrnambool or further to obtain this service.

Nick Starkie responded by thanking RCWE for its hospitality, congratulated Darren on his award, and Sgt Darren thanked him for his generosity in making the funds available to the appeal which needed to raise some $2.9M to complete the project.

Mr Starkie outlined the project – apart from obtaining the machine, a special building was required as ther was not an adaptable space within the current building. Also, a significant upgrade to the power supply would be needed.