He did it to digitise the road rule book through two hours of animation in eight Indigenous languages, English and five foreign languages.
DriveAbout has worldwide application and is scaling nationally.
Its pivot focuses on government and corporate Australia reducing their horrific stats around employee road safety by using digital educational content to refresh their workforce on road rule and road safety fundamentals.
Mr Hoffmann and his DriveAbout World investors did not want to leave Indigenous Australia behind or leave another great product on the shelf. What they did know is that they needed this market to be conquered by an Aboriginal leader.
Enter Martina Hazelbane, a strong Warai-Larrakia woman.
She knows the pain caused by the Northern Territory’s horrific road safety statistics more than most.
Ms Hazelbane has lost family members to road trauma. Every time she drives to her homelands in Adelaide River, she passes a small, white cross memorial to one of her relatives.
She wanted to do something meaningful to stop the carnage.
Ms Hazelbane worked for the North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency for 13 years and is a winner of the national Trevor Christenson Law Award for Social Justice. She knows social inequality and the power of education to level the playing field, so she set up the Indigenous Road Safety Academy (IRSA).
IRSA’s objectives are to lower Indigenous incarceration through education, increase employability, reduce Indigenous Road trauma and increase Indigenous knowledge around buying and maintaining a car.
Ms Hazelbane is thrilled to have DriveAbout underpinning IRSA and believes she has the structure, the passion and the network to take the innovative road safety tool and the associated blended learning model to where it needs to go – into the hands of her people.
The digital education system that IRSA has exclusivity to is a great example of Territory ingenuity. It uses high end tech and virtually assisted educational enabling mats that lay out on the ground – anywhere.
It teaches road safety and road rules using an “I do, we do, you do” approach familiar with educators the world over. It uses high-class educational animation and videos, and her aim is to teach her people to teach others – true empowerment.
IRSA is also looking into a virtual VR-based driving school to reduce the terrible economic cost of bad driving where one life saved is $4.34 million and a prevented six-week jail sentence is $43,000.
Every job that needs a driving licence contributes a net economic benefit of $46,000.
IRSA’s approach also reflects the research and recommendations of the 2019 Austroads report on Improving Driver Licensing Programs for Indigenous Road Users produced by Paul Rajan, a former Registrar Motor Vehicles in the NT. The report provides an evidence-based policy framework for improving access to appropriately designed licensing programs for Indigenous communities, improving road safety and employment opportunities in remote Australia. It also provides the foundation of IRSA’s approach to reducing traffic related imprisonment for Indigenous peoples.”
Ms Hazelbane and Mr Rajan both believe EdTech devices such as DriveAbout are the most effective means of overcoming literacy and learning barriers.
Mr Rajan believes that IRSA, a 100% Aboriginal-owned and led organisation will be the “tipping point” in positively improving road safety in Indigenous Australia.
Ms Hazelbane says DriveAbout overcomes one of the greatest difficulties in Indigenous education – the fact that most Aboriginal people, especially those living in one of the Territory’s 500 remote communities and homelands, speak English as a third, fourth or even fifth language.
She says the traditional road safety manual is not effective and mainstream programs struggle to get the necessary engagement.
“In the six months since she self-funded her start-up, Ms Hazelbane is working with clients across Australia, including Police Youth Citizens Club in QLD and their RIO and MAIC-funded Breaking the Cycle – Changing Gears learner driver program in Queensland, Nyangatjatjara College in Central Australia and their Pitjantjara speaking students, as well as opportunities in Palm Island and the Northern Territory with major CDP providers and a project brewing on Groote Eylandt.”
Ms Hazelbane’s aim is to keep the Indigenous version of the DriveAbout App free and is open to partnerships with government or corporates, such as Telstra or RIO, who are looking to ‘walk their talk’ around Indigenous engagement and empowerment.
She has great credibility in Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal society, which has opened doors and helped gain intense interest from many including police and remote schools.
Ms Hazelbane says DriveAbout can help keep Indigenous people out of prison and save society a vast amount of money.
Thirty five percent of Territory prisoners are behind bars because of traffic offences, many for driving without a license.
“Offenders should be sentenced not to prison but to being educated culturally appropriately and obtaining a license,” Ms Hazelbane says.
Having worked in justice, she is talking to the police and NAAJA about a model for minor offences relating specifically to licensing involving immediately undertaking a process to get your L’s rather than going to jail.