Working with indigenous communities to improve driver licensing protocols and offender management
A recent national investigation of Indigenous road safety in Australia conducted by CARRS-Q and ARRB Transport Ltd identified unlicensed driving as a major social and road safety problem facing this high-risk population. Unlicensed driving offences greatly contribute to Indigenous Australians being over-represented in incarceration figures by fifteen-fold. The national review highlighted a need to better understand the factors contributing to unlicensed driving among this population in order to develop and implement more effective licensing regimes and countermeasures. This paper discusses the methodology used in the ?problem identification? phase of a larger four-year collaborative project aiming to increase Indigenous licensing and retention rates by improving all aspects of the licensing process ? from entry into the system to offender management. The multi-faceted research design involves: (i) focus groups in 13 Queensland Indigenous communities to identify perceptions of the current licensing system and sanctions, unmet licensing needs and cultural, attitudinal and access barriers [community perspective]; (ii) semi-structured interviews with 50 Indigenous licensing offenders to examine factors contributing to higher incarceration rates [offender perspective]; and (iii) interagency focus groups to identify priority directions and establish roles to address unmet licensing needs [government perspective]. The paper stresses the importance of using appropriate research protocols when working with Indigenous communities and provides advice for researchers and policy-makers faced with this challenge. While not the focus of the paper, there is some discussion of the preliminary findings of the ?problem identification? phase of the research and how these results will inform the continuation of the research as it moves toward intervention development and evaluation.