Dozens of Aboriginal and low income members of the community have been able to get their learner and probationary driver's licence through a partnership between TAFE Taree and Taree Indigenous Development and Employment (TIDE).
The driver licensing support program runs several times a year, teaching up to 20 students at a time all about safe driving and helping them get their hours up.
Toni Baxter works at TIDE, and has brought some of her social work clients into the program.
“The program has been going for a number of years now, and it grows every time we run it, we even have people waiting to get into it,” she said.
“Biripi puts on a bus every week to make it possible for students to get to and from the classes which are held at TAFE. There’s a lot of support around it.”
Toni explained the course did a lot more for the students than just teaching them the basics of driving. She said many of them developed close relationships through the program to take away into their futures.
“Once the students get together through this course they are like brothers and sisters, it’s a really good connection,” she said.
“Being able to drive breaks down a lot of barriers for our students, it gives them a chance to get their licence and become more independent.”
Once the students have learned all about road and vehicle safety and passed the learner permit test, TIDE mentors take them out to get their driving hours up.
Each student also gets two professional lessons, and the program pays for their licence fees.
“We get clients from all around Taree, anyone from low income families who wouldn’t have this opportunity otherwise, it’s not just an Aboriginal initiative,” Toni added.
“We try to help everyone out, no matter who they are. If the need some help, we will try to give it.”