The commitment of Wirrpanda Foundation mentor Kylie Jesus to a driver training program has seen huge returns for young Aboriginal people, with almost 90 people obtaining their provisional licence and more than 50 gaining employment as a direct result of the program. Kylie is a driver training mentor for the Kwinana Driver Training Program which was funded by the Department of Training and Workforce Development through the Wirrpanda Foundation.
Balga TAFE Jobs and Skills Centre's Des Duguid said the program was aimed at helping disengaged or at risk people gain their licence. “Many of the participants came from homes where parents or caregivers didn’t have their licence or there was no family car to learn in,” he said. “The link between unemployment and no drivers licence for young Aboriginal people is very clear. This program helped to guide participants through the long and challenging process of obtaining a licence and changed lives by reducing barriers to employment.”
Des said that a total of 200 people had entered the program since it started in 2014. “Significantly 56 of the 89 young people who obtained their licence transitioned directly into employment at the end of the funding period late in 2017, and the remaining participants all gained valuable driving experience and made significant steps toward gaining their licence.”
Participants’ stories show that gaining a licence not only helps the driver but their whole family. One case study involved two sisters and a brother who came from a family where nobody could drive. The children weren’t able to get to school. The oldest sister obtained her licence through the program and was then able to drive all the family’s children to school. The brother later gained his licence as well, and found employment.
Since funding ceased the Wirrpanda Foundation has continued its work in this area, obtaining Australian Government funding for a youth pre-employment program which will be expanded to include a driver training component.
Main picture: Driver training mentor Kylie Jesus with driver training program participant Dylan Jacobs-Bolton, proudly displaying his red P-plates.