LEARNING how to drive is an important waypost for many people when they are growing up, for others finding someone to teach them how to drive can be a struggle. Christian pastor and youth worker Sophie Lingam is determined to close that gap.
“I want to help build young people’s confidence and refine their driving skills, so they have a chance to go outside of Moree and see the bigger world,” she said.
The former police officer, teacher and part-time actor recently left Brisbane to join the team at PCYC Moree to head the Driver Licensing Access Program.
The driving program is open to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged between 16-25 and who have no access to a car or difficulty accessing driving resources.
“If a young person comes from a family where their parents don’t drive or own a car, that child doesn’t have the role model to teach them how to drive. They might grow up, without ever driving. This program is about empowering these young people,” Sophie said.
The program was rolled out earlier in the year at Moree PCYC, but lacked an official program coordinator. Until now, PCYC youth workers would alternate shifts to provide driving lessons. Since taking on Sophie in early May, the program is able to provide a more focused service to young people.
Sophie provides comprehensive driving lessons and to help young people obtain their Learner or Provisional Licence. Each lesson is tailored around the young driver’s needs and time schedule.
“All petrol costs are provided thanks to Road and Maritime Services and we also provide a car,” Sophie said. “This program isn’t just about obtaining a licence, but also retaining or regaining one.”
Sophie said a driver’s licence can build plenty of path ways for the young driver and open doors of opportunity.
“When you know how to drive that also opens employment opportunities,” she said.
Sophie’s mission to help young people has taken her all over Australia and the itinerant social crusader can attest to the benefits of travelling.
Moree PCYC manager Tayla Macey said she was happy that Sophie landed in Moree on her travels.
“The Driver Licensing Access Program will run until the end of the year, when it will go under review and PCYC will determine whether or not to continue with the program,” she said.