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Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Senator the Hon. Ian Campbell
6 May 2005
Environment and Heritage Minister and Western Australian Senator Ian Campbell has urged local parents to take an environmentally friendly, healthier mode of transport to school this morning and participate in Walk Safely to School Day.
The national event, sponsored by the Australian Government, encourages parents and carers to walk to school with their primary school-aged children instead of driving.
Senator Campbell, who often walks or rides his bike with his children and is taking part in today's event, said the day aimed at highlighting the problem of childhood obesity in Australia and the need to reduce car dependency habits to tackle air pollution and traffic congestion.
"While busy lives make us a very car-reliant society, we also are hooked on the convenience of driving to a destination rather than walking, even for short trips," he said.
"Transport accounts for 14.4 per cent of our total national greenhouse gas emissions and much of this is from road transportation and the family car. If we all make an effort to take half an hour out of a day to walk our children to school, even occasionally, we can play a part in reducing traffic congestion, air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions and we encourage a healthier, more active lifestyle in a generation that is more likely to spend time in front of a computer than running around the local park.
"It also allows parents to spend valuable time with their children, something else that can be in short supply for busy people," he said.
Senator Campbell said Walk to School Safely Day also promoted the development of road safety skills in children.
"Children under 10 are particularly vulnerable because they are not able to judge speed and distance, so it is important to ensure they always hold the hand of an adult when crossing a road," he said.
"Our car dependence these days also can mean the simple ‘look right and left and right again before crossing a road' message is not drummed into our children as it should be. Today is a reminder that we need to make the teaching of road safety skills a priority," Senator Campbell said.
The Australian Government is working with State and local governments under its Greenhouse Gas Abatement programme and the TravelSmart Australia initiative to encourage less reliance on cars.
Schools that would like to make walking safely to school more than just a once-a-year event can set up a Walking School Bus. The TravelSmart web site [www.travelsmart.gov.au] provides schools with a toolkit to help them set up a Walking School Bus.
Renae Stoikos (Minister Campbell's office) 02 6277 7640 or 0418 117 361