Advance Diversity Services (ADS) will use $30,000 funding awarded by Transport NSW to roll out a driver education program for recently arrived refugees and migrants in the St George area.

The Learn to Drive Program recognises that learning to drive in a new country can be an important pathway for new arrivals in terms of mobility and economic and social participation.

It also supports learners to overcome barriers they face learning to drive in Australia, including language skills to comprehend licensing authority information, costs of training, access to cars and supervising drivers to prepare for tests, and learning different road rules from their country of origin.

Developed by Gymea Community Aid & Information Service, the program helps learners to pass their driver knowledge test, improve their English skills and gain driving practice with volunteer mentors.

‘While driving lessons aren’t part of the humanitarian settlement support package provided to refugees once they arrive in Australia, for a new migrant or refugee, being able to drive can mean the difference between successfully settling into a new community or being isolated,’ said Anthony Scerri, Manager of Settlement and Community Services for ADS.

‘Having a licence gives people independence. It also opens up opportunities for employment.’

The Learn to Drive Program is linked to a mandatory four-day TAFE course and assessment. Participants that require further driving experience are provided with lessons by a professional driving school. These lessons (up to six lessons per person) will be subsidised by the grant funding.

After the professional driving lessons, participants will be linked with volunteer mentors who are experienced drivers. Learner drivers can see their mentor for unlimited sessions until they get their licence.

Participants that require further support with tests are linked with volunteers who can sit down with them and go through mock tests and help them to gain experience and develop confidence.

The Learn to Drive Program was awarded the funding in round five of the 2019 Community Road Safety Grants.

‘We’re excited about the grant and to partner in this program,’ said Mr Scerri, ‘which will enhance the social and economic wellbeing of our clients.’

Advance Diversity Services is a leading non-profit services provider that assists migrants and refugees in the St George and Sutherland Shire to thrive in Australian society.

Caption: Recent funding to Advance Diversity Services for a driver education program will help new migrants and refugees learn to drive, which can make a huge difference to how well they settle into Australian society.