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Student transport - and bus safety in particular - has remained a priority on the CCSP agenda over many years.

The School Bus Safety Community Advisory Committee
In recent times, the CCSP provided representation on The School Bus Safety Community Advisory Committee established in 2011 by the NSW Minister for Transport, the Hon Gladys Berejiklian MP and the Minister for Roads and Ports, the Hon Duncan Gay MLC. 

The committee was comprised of representatives from parent organisations across the government, Catholic and independent schools sectors, the
Belt Up for Safety Action Group; an emergency department doctor; BusNSW; the Country Mayors Association; the NRMA; Transport for NSW (TfNSW);
and Roads and Maritimes Services (RMS).

The purpose of the Committee was to inquire into and report on issues relating to the safe transportation of children in rural and regional NSW. The Committee met in 2011 and 2012
with regional public meetings in Coffs Harbour, Albury and Wagga Wagga. The Committee arrived at 35 recommendations which were submitted to the Minister on 21 October. 

Click to view the Report and NSW Government Responses 

In August 2013 the Hon Gladys Berejiklian announced $200 million investment in response to the Committee Recommendations. The plan will see the installation of seat belts and phasing out of students standing in the aisles in more than 1700 dedicated school buses in rural and regional NSW over the next ten years, in 2014. 

The CCSP commends the work of the Ministers in adopting the recommendation of having seat belts on buses and continues to push for phasing in of the ‘no standing recommendation’ sooner than later. The plan does not include charter buses, buses used for school excursions or regular daytime bus services, but schools in all three education sectors are being encouraged to ensure providers meet the minimum standards when hiring or procuring buses.

Other recommendations made by the committee which Transport for NSW will adopt to improve regional and rural school bus safety include:

    • regular monitoring of new and emerging vehicle safety technologies and where necessary
      and appropriate, encouraging their use through regional bus contracts;
    • a new Student Code of Conduct to ensure parents, students and bus operators know their responsibilities when it comes to wearing seatbelts;
    • encouraging schools to use buses fitted with seatbelts for excursions and other charters;
    • developing guidelines which outline responsibilities for rural and regional bus operators to
      encourage students to wear seatbelts when fitted;
    • developing a standard for designing rural bus stops to improve safety;
    • reviewing regulations relating to speed limits around buses when school bus warning lights
      are flashing;
    • exploring new ways to communicate with stakeholders to improve student safety around
      school bus zones;
    • rolling out communication strategies to identify, share and promote good school
      bus safety practice.

In February 2014 after the Port Macquarie school bus crash, CCSP once again wrote to Minister Berejiklian to redouble efforts to expedite the phase-in of seatbelts and eradicate standing in the aisles.

Previous Actions
2002 – formation of joint bus action group consisting of Council of Catholic School Parents, NSW Parents Council, Federation of Parents & Citizens Associations, Federation of School Community Organisations, Isolated Childrens Parents Association, with advice sought from BUS Action Group, the Commuter Council, the Pedestrian Council, Kidsafe and Staysafe. Objectives of the forum included the following: that in situations of school student bus travel where road speeds are permitted above 60kph:

  • all new into service school buses to be fitted with seatbelts
  • no passengers are to stand in moving buses by end of 2003
  • passengers are to be seated two per standard seat by end of 2004
  • passengers are to be protected by wearing seatbelts by end of 2005

The group continued to exert pressure in the public domain and directly to government to improve bus safety conditions for school students.