Here’s a loud round of applause for Glenda Staniford, the seatbelts-on-school-buses campaigner who last week was named South Coast Woman of the Year. It is well-deserved recognition for someone who set a goal and worked doggedly for many years to achieve it.
Glenda was stirred to action after the death of local school student in a bus crash at Wandandian in 2001. The driving force behind the BUS (Belt Up for Safety) Action Group, she campaigned ceaselessly to have seatbelts made compulsory for school buses travelling on highways and country roads.
She did not let the reflexive too-hard-basket response from governments and the bus companies deter her and, for that, every parent who sends their children off to school on highways and country roads ought to be grateful. From 2021, the NSW government will make it mandatory to have seatbelts fitted.
Glenda’s work will make the school bus trip so much safer, especially along one of the most dangerous stretches of highway in the state – the Princes Highway between Milton and the Jervis Bay turnoff.
The honour was bestowed as part of the International Women’s Day celebrations. True to her gracious form, Glenda was quick to say the recognition really ought to have been shared by all who joined the seatbelts campaign. She singled out Jan Shalhoub for special mention and credited South Coast MP Shelley Hancock for helping to sway the government’s position.
So here is an example of three strong local women seeing the need for change and lobbying hard and consistently to bring it about. Glenda says she will always remember June 26, 2017 as a magic day, the day all the work paid off – in NSW at least.
However, Glenda isn’t resting at the border. She is now lobbying the Queensland government to follow the lead NSW has taken. While frustrated by that state’s heel dragging, one gets the sense she will keep on lobbying.
Here at the Times, we hope to draw on that lesson in persistence in our advocacy of safety upgrades for the Princes Highway.
Just as Glenda recognised in 2001 that something needed to change to keep our children safe, we see the urgency of highway improvements and intend to fight for them until they are delivered.
We know it will take time and effort and will encounter setbacks but we are inspired by Glenda’s example. Persistence pays off.