Driving indigenous opportunities

HAVING a licence can mean the difference between getting a job or getting in trouble with the law. 

James Smith is currently on his green provisional licence.

James Smith is currently on his green provisional licence.

Later this month, Aboriginal residents of Moree will be given an opportunity to begin the process of obtaining a licence, with free driving instruction and courses designed to help with passing the Roads and Maritime Services Learner and Provisional licence tests.

Birrang Enterprise launched its Western NSW Aboriginal Learner Driver Program in 2005 and has since completed more than 45 driver programs. 

“We’ve been to Broken Hill, Wilcannia, Boggabilla, Toomelah, Lightning Ridge, Walgett, Coonamble, Warren, Bourke, Albury, Wagga and quite a few other places,” driving instructor Nick Frail said. 

“I was up in Bourke doing a five-week program and we had 22 people get their Ls or Ps while we were up there,” he said. 

“We also did a program up at Brewarrina which ran for about eight weeks and 55 licences came out of the program.”

Aboriginal people in rural communities can face a number of barriers to getting their licence, including proof of identity, state debt, literacy and access to training facilities, Mr Frail said. 

“In these communities, we get a lot of Aboriginal people drive unlicenced because they don’t have the right facilities and people around them to support them, and help them get their licences in the first place,” he said.

“They end up getting caught by police.”

He said the driving program used touch screen computers and laptops to help indigenous people learn to pass the driver knowledge test and courses to pass the driving test.

 The program also helps people deal with state debts and obtain proof of identity. 

Getting a licence is not only about staying on the right side of the law, it opens a wealth of opportunities in peoples’ lives, Mr Frail said.

“It will help them out with employment as it gives them the ability to go out and get a job,” he said. 

“It also helps out with their family and day to day life, as it makes it easier for them to get out and take the kids to the doctors, or go do the shopping.”

The five-week program is open for Aboriginal people who hold a concession or health care card. 

It begins on Tuesday, February 17 and runs for three days per week, Tuesday to Thursday, from 9.30am to 12.30pm.

Anybody wishing to participate can contact Birrang on 6361 9511 or alternatively text their interest to 0427 300 604.

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