Beep beep, beep beep, yeah!
WATERLOO: Wednesday July 12 saw a spirited gathering at Weave Youth & Community Services. The cause for celebration was the purchase of two new cars for the organisation’s Driving Change program which aims to help young people obtain a driver’s licence. The program offers professional driver education as well as the support of 30 volunteer driving supervisors.
“We are celebrating the purchase of two new cars (our fleet now totals three), thanks to the incredible fundraising efforts of one of our volunteer drivers, Chris Howard. The experience has deeply moved and inspired us,” said Mardi Diles, Weave Partnerships Manager.
Learner Ornib Safdari meets weekly with Mr Howard for two- to three-hour lessons. “It really helps me to gain confidence,” she said.
When Leanne Green started in the role as Driving Change Coordinator it was evident one of her priorities would be securing funds for a second automatic vehicle. “The [sole] automatic vehicle was heavily booked, especially during working hours,” she explained, “meaning we were unable to deliver many professional lessons without taking the car away from volunteers.”
In April Ms Green sent an email to all volunteers, thanking them for their patience and letting them know of efforts to source another car. In response, Chris Howard approached a group of his friends, many of whom are small business owners, and suggested they each put in some money to purchase a vehicle for the program. The donors’ generosity far exceeded (even their own) expectations and over $21,000 was raised, enabling the purchase of two new cars. Each comes with a seven-year warranty and fixed-price road service.
“It’s a really good cause,” said volunteer Steve, one of 10 donors, all fellow cyclists. “It’s good for cyclists and motorists to support one another.”
Many young people face challenges when it comes to obtaining a driver’s licence. These may include not knowing anyone with a full licence who can supervise them while they gain on-road experience, not having access to a car, struggling with literacy or having outstanding fines and sanctions.
The support offered by the program, which started in October 2015 and has seen 137 young people obtain a Learner’s Licence as well as 38 Provisionals, may take the form of literacy tutoring, intensive on-road training with a qualified professional, or being partnered with volunteer supervisors to complete log-book hours.
A “wall of honour” at Weave encourages personal and collective pride.
“Our learners have access to automatic cars as well as one manual [car], and our volunteers are patient, flexible and relaxed, making for a varied and supportive learning environment,” Ms Green said.
“A driver’s licence opens up all kinds of opportunities – for employment, social mobility, and helping people stay out of jail. Eligible people can even work off their fines here with us,” said Ms Green, who cites royal commissioner Mick Gooda’s observation regarding too many Indigenous people jailed for driving offences, that a driver’s licence is a licence to live.
To be eligible for the Driving Change program a person must: live within the City of Sydney, Marrickville or Maroubra LGA; be a Centrelink customer and/or be experiencing financial hardship; not have someone with a full licence or a car who can help them learn to drive; not be able to afford to pay for driving lessons; have no other means of achieving the driving practice required to obtain a licence; have the time and desire to commit to the program.
Contact Leanne Green at Weave: firstname.lastname@example.org