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About the Book

For Tom, a seventeen year old from the country town of Mumbilli, life is simply about rugby, his mates and his family who are highly respected and involved in their small community.

A 'sudden death' rugby victory and what was meant to be a night of celebration instead becomes the night Tom's life changes forever.

Daniel Brennan, Tom's older brother by 20 months starts a fight at the party. Daniel is drunk and his dark moods known by all cause him to accuse his cousin Fin, of trying to steal his girlfriend. Fin, younger by two weeks has lived in Daniel's shadow yet worshipped and trusted him all his life.

That night, Daniel's rage extends to behind the wheel and they are involved in a car accident. Fin suffers irreversible spinal injuries. The other two passengers, teenagers from their town, are killed.

J.C. Burke, 2017.


  • Young drivers are significantly over-represented in road traffic accidents resulting in both injury and death. This is not just in Australia, but worldwide. Each year nearly 400,000 people under 25 years die on the world's roads.  [World Health Organisation 2007]
  • In Australia, the population based rate for road deaths of young adults is 56 per cent higher than for all age groups.  [Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics 2013]
  • The over-representation of young people in transport related accidents has been linked to risky driving behaviours including speeding, driving when fatigued, and driving under the influence of alcohol or other drugs (Smart et al. 2005) as well as limited development of hazard perception related to inexperience and stages of brain development.  [Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2012]
  • In the 15-24 year age group in Australia, death rates among males were three times as high as among females in road traffic deaths (15 and 5 per 100, 000 respectively).  [Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2010]
  • The highest period for risk for Australian young drivers is shortly after they get their licence, and continues up to age 24.  [Australian Department of Infrastructure & Regional Development 2013]
  • Australian young people are more likely to be in a fatal road crash during the weekend and night time. [Australian Department of Infrastructure & Regional Development 2013]

Youthsafe, 2015

Rating: E    Production Year: 2005    Duration: 24:56

Description:This program looks at the major areas of risk for young drivers: distractions, alcohol and drugs, speeding, mobile phone use, rowdy passengers and fatigue.

There are a number of factors which combine to put young people at greater risk of injury than other age groups. Risks associated with being young include:

  • New levels of independence - young people generally start being more mobile during adolescence and have less adult supervision.
  • Inexperience with new situations, which may require developing new skills, such as driving.
  • Desire for experimentation and thrill seeking which includes inexperience with alcohol and experimentation with alcohol and drugs.
  • Risk taking tendencies - thrill seeking behaviours are part of normal adolescent development.
  • Still developing maturity, hazard perception and decision making skills – the area of the brain related to these functions is generally continuing to develop in young people into their 20s.
  • Strong influence of peers – at no time is the influence of peers greater than it is in adolescence. We know that young people are often motivated by the short term gain of impressing their mates and peer acceptance rather than the longer term concerns of health and safety.
  • Overconfidence in own ability and a sense of invulnerability. As a result, they are more likely to take dangerous risks.

Youthsafe, 2015

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About the Author


JC (Jane Catherine) Burke was born and raised in Sydney. She’s the fourth of five girls and her parents were journalists. She remembers the tip tap of the typewriters and the stress in the house when deadlines were due.

Burke trained as a nurse at RPAH and later specialised in Oncology where she worked in Bone Marrow Transplant Units in Sydney and London.

Burke prided herself in telling a good story, remembering all the small details, yet her first words weren’t written until she was 35 years old. They became her debut novel White Lies written under the guidance of an ASA Mentorship and was awarded a CBCA Notable Book.

Since then, Burke has published many acclaimed and award winning novels with numerous international translations. The Story of Tom Brennan won the CBCA Book of the Year for Older Readers and is currently on the NSW HSC English Syllabus.  Pig Boy won the Ned Kelly Award for Best Crime Fiction.

These days, Burke is trying her hand at TV and Film writing. She lives in Sydney with her husband Michael. Her children Victoria and Nick, are no longer children, but still an endless source of eavesdropping and inspiration.

J.C.Burke, 2017

Image retrieved from 


Rating: E     Production Year: 2009    Duration: 23:41

Description: Alcohol is the most popular and most widely used recreational drug in Australian culture. But how does binge drinking really affect individuals physically, socially and psychologically? What are the short and long term effects? What are the direct and indirect consequences? Exploring the issue through the eyes of our youth, this program takes an in depth look at this major health issue and investigates the concept of binge drinking and what can happen when it gets out of hand. We discuss; the effects of alcohol, reasons for binge drinking, addiction, consequences, associated risks with binge drinking and responsible behaviour.