The Ungiven Gifts installation features 209 gifts, symbolising the number of lives lost on Victorian roads this year.
Assistant Treasurer Gordon Rich-Phillips, who launched the installation in the State Library forecourt this morning, said the display of hundreds of whitewashed gifts surrounding the Ungiven Gifts Christmas tree was moving.
“The sad reality is that many gifts will go ungiven this year. Behind each of these gifts is a heartbreaking story of a life lost and of loved ones for whom Christmas will never be the same,” Mr Rich-Phillips said.
“Our hearts go out to everyone who will go through this Festive Season dealing with grief due to the road toll. We hope this installation reminds all in the community of the importance of being safe on the roads.”
Minister for Roads Terry Mulder and Minister for Police and Emergency Services Kim Wells were was also present at today’s launch. Minister Mulder said the festive season can be a dangerous time on our roads.
The state’s road toll presently stands (at the time of writing) at 209; 43 less than at the same time last year.
“We’ve seen a reduction in the number of people killed on Victorian roads, but the focus has to be on a zero road toll and, until that occurs, we cannot afford to be complacent,” Mr Mulder said.
For many Victorians, like the family of Rory McCaffrey who was killed in a December 2011 car crash, the pain of knowing that he will be missing from the Christmas table will remain forever.
Rory’s mother Fiona Reidy, who was at today’s launch, said the festive season had been a particularly difficult time of year since Rory’s death two years ago.
“Last Christmas was an extremely difficult time for all of us, being the first anniversary of Rory’s death and knowing that it had always been a time of year that we enjoyed spending time together as a family,” Ms Reidy said.
“People need to get the message that, whether it is speeding, drink driving or talking on your mobile phone, these behaviours cost lives and nothing is worth the risk.”
Ungiven Gifts will be in the State Library forecourt until Wednesday.
Visitors can leave either a commitment to safe driving or a tribute to a loved one on the Christmas tree, or at www.facebook.com/tac.
Reducing deaths and serious injuries is a key objective of the Victorian Government’s 10 year Road Safety Strategy. Find out more at www.roadsafety.vic.gov.au