Single mum Maria's life has changed now that she has her driver's licence. She can take her kids out at the weekend and doesn't need to rely on taxis when her kids get sick.
Getting a driver's licence is a rite of passage, but for some, including many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the Shoalhaven area the lack of a supervising licenced driver and car can make it difficult to build up the required hours of driving experience. In rural areas, not having a licence can mean job and study opportunities may be out of reach.
Based on a real need in the community Red Cross, in conjunction with the local Aboriginal Legal Service, runs the Learner Driver program, where dedicated volunteers mentor learner drivers to help them get the necessary driving experience to get their licence.
The flow-on effect of helping people get their licence in the community is great. According to Aboriginal Legal Service senior solicitor Gary Pudney, when young people get their licence it means their families become mobile and they themselves become role models for younger people in their community.
Gary, who sees many young Indigenous people come through the court system for driving offences, says the program is important as these licenced drivers "become a community resource."
For more information on joining the program in Nowra or becoming a volunteer mentor, contact Jason Sharp on 4428 4900 or firstname.lastname@example.org