11 October 2022

Three schools offer extra counselling after multiple holiday road fatalities

| Claire Fenwicke
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Floral tribute at crash site

Floral tributes have been left at the Monaro Highway crash site where two teenage girls died. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

Dozens of students and teachers across Canberra have returned to the classroom this week with one less friend among them.

Three Canberra teenagers have been killed in car crashes during the school holidays, two girls on the Monaro Highway in Hume on Sunday morning and a boy on the Kings Highway near Bungendore.

It’s understood at least one of the girls killed in the Monaro Highway crash attended an ACT public school.

A spokesperson with the Education Directorate said students and teachers would be offered the support they needed as they returned for Term 4.

“ACT public schools are offering extra support to students and families affected by this tragic news,” they said.

“As this relates to an ongoing police investigation we will make no further comments at this time.”

READ ALSO Monaro Highway fatal crash highlights need for sentencing, bail review: Hanson

A 16-year-old boy accused of being the driver has been charged with two counts of culpable driving causing death, driving as an unaccompanied learner and not giving assistance after a crash. He did not apply for bail when he appeared at ACT Children’s Court and it was formally refused.

ACT Policing has urged all motorists – drivers and passengers alike – to consider their behaviour on our roads.

“Please, have the conversation with your families about what you are expected to do on our roads as a road user,” Road Policing Acting Inspector Travis Mills said.

“It might be a confronting conversation, but you may also actually have that conversation which will see you returning home.”

He also stressed motorists needed to drive as if their loved one was coming in the opposite direction.

“I would like people just to think about their actions, think about their loved ones and their friends,” Act Insp Mills said.

“This was, as I’ve said, a holistically avoidable collision and a tragic loss of life that need not have occurred.”

religious tribute at crash site

A cross was among the tributes left for two girls killed in a car crash on the Monaro Highway in Hume. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

Students at both Marist College and Merici College have also been offered counselling sessions following the death of a 17-year-old boy on the Kings Highway over the October long weekend.

The teenager, whom Region has chosen not to name due to the privacy wishes of his family, attended Marist College and had a brother at the school.

Year 12 students and those who knew the boy gathered at Marist College on 6 October for a prayer service and to access support.

In a letter sent to parents and carers, Marist College headmaster Matthew Hutchison said the boys would be given advice on how to care for themselves and their friends who were grieving.

“The college will also provide an opportunity for our senior school students, on their return to school, to meet with their House Group leaders to pray [for the student] and his family while providing an opportunity to check on each boy,” he said.

“Grief is a natural and healthy response to loss and may get expressed in different ways. We encourage you to take this opportunity to check in with your son to see how he is feeling and ask if he is struggling.”

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The same support was offered to Merici College students by their school.

“Our hearts go out to the [boy’s] family and Marist community and we extend to them our deepest sympathy and prayers,” Merici College principal Anna Masters wrote in a letter to parents and carers seen by Region.

“May [the boy] rest in peace, enfolded forever in God’s love.”

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There is a serious gap in educating young people and drivers in the ACT. There are program once you’ve got your licence, but no programs for young people leading to getting a licence.

There is also no ‘responsible passenger’ education within the system.

Hopefully this will be highlighted during the dangerous driving inquiry.

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