After more than a decade battling bureaucracy and politics, Glenda Staniford is tired.
In her bid to have seatbelts installed on school buses, Mrs Staniford has seen six transport ministers, five roads ministers and five education ministers come and go. Each could have helped. Almost all failed to.
But there is fresh hope her long campaign - triggered following death of 15-year-old Kristian Carruthers in a bus crash on the NSW south coast - is edging closer to a win.
“I think the time is right,” said Mrs Staniford.
“NSW is one of the only two states not acting on school bus seatbelts, they’re lagging behind and the government just wouldn’t risk the outcry from parents if they were to continue to do nothing.”
Ms Staniford is a member of a committee investigating how school bus safety can be improved. She helped convince the current transport minister, Gladys Berejiklian, of the need for the probe. Findings will be delivered within weeks and sweeping changes are likely to be recommended.
It will then become clear whether the O’Farrell government is prepared to embrace the report and tackle something predecessors have spent decades dodging.
“(On) every other form of transport on our roads, everyone has to wear seatbelts,” Mrs Staniford said.
“While we’ve had many deaths, we haven’t had a big incident where seven or eight children have been killed at once and it’s sad to say (it can often) take a massive tragedy for something to happen.”
Three children have been killed and 624 others injured in bus crashes over the last decade in NSW. The latest, nine-year-old Harry Dunn, was ejected from a window of a school bus that crashed in Singleton last month.
Kristian Carruthers was killed when his school bus collided with a car on the Princes Highway near Ulladulla in 2001. The bus was not fitted with seatbelts. Thirty-six other students were injured.
The accident sent shockwaves through the NSW south coast and promoted Mrs Staniford to start the Belt Up for Safety Action Group.
“I didn’t even know Kristian or anyone else on the bus but in a small community everyone bands together, it affects everyone and that accident rocked our community.”
Mrs Staniford said at a minimum, standing in bus aisles when the vehicle is travelling at 80 kilometres an hour or higher or on an unsealed or medium to high risk roads should be banned and all buses that travel on these routes should be fitted with seatbelts.
Her campaign has been backed by the NRMA, Greens and Country Mayors Association of NSW.
“It’s been tough going at times but I can’t give up now. I have to keep on it because if (the campaign) just dies it could be another 10 years before something happens.”