How It All Began

Analysing research papers, statistics, reviewing legislation, national and international trends late at night is not the most alluring way to describe how a charitable organisation was founded, but in 2007, that is exactly where we began.

The initial research statistics were staggering and when this surfaced our Founder, Sarah Dean felt enough evidence on the social and economic burdens imposed by road crashes in New Zealand had surfaced.

Sarah a road crash survivor herself, undertook the research purely to be part of the solution. Having spent her childhood growing up in the charitable sector, her natural instincts set in and her desire to support those deeply impacted began.

After a further year of research, Sarah quietly set about sector research and stakeholder engagement. She worked alongside those those supported legislative change and felt privileged to have heard powerful stories from victims and their families. Sarah worked with her local MP who supported her, even writing to the Hon. Maryan Street who was the current ACC Minister at the time. When an unfavourable response for legislative change was received, Sarah felt her next steps should be owed to each and every victim impacted. It was then the most remarkable part of the journey began.

The Start of Progress

Sarah knew the next steps had to involve a large transformational shift, having contacts in the medical sector, in 2009 she was directed to Clinical Psychologist, Paul Wynands who specialised in road trauma, followed by Dr Lee Kannis-Dymand a PHD academic specialist in road trauma and Professor Neville Blampied, Head of Psychology Department at the University of Canterbury.

The first official public engagement was in 2009, at a function alongside Val Sim, Lead Commissioner of the 2009 Law Commissioners Review on ‘Compensating Victims of Crime’.  Sarah was invited to speak on the inequalities and socio economic impacts of the Accident Compensation Act for those impacted by road crashes.

In early 2010 the Road Traffic Accident Trauma Charitable Trust was formally registered with the Charities Commission. The Trust proudly became one of the first charitable organisations of its kind in New Zealand.

Professor Neville Blampied was the inaugural Chairman of the Trust. In 2012 he undertook study on the psychological impacts of 2011 Christchurch earthquake victims, working closely with Mr Phil Bagshaw, Founder of the Canterbury Charity Hospital Trust. It was then that a very special partnership was formed with the Hospital.