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Pilbara, Kimberley learner driver programs share in $1.6m funding injection

Sam JonesNorth West Telegraph
Life Without Barriers driver training program instructor Max Pedlar, instructor Louise Wicks, director Fiona Moriarty and instructor Russell Edmunds.
Camera IconLife Without Barriers driver training program instructor Max Pedlar, instructor Louise Wicks, director Fiona Moriarty and instructor Russell Edmunds. Credit: Broome Advertiser / Sam Jones/Sam Jones

Six North West projects aimed at assisting young people from remote areas in attaining their driver’s licence have received a share in more than $1.6 million of funds as part of the Driving Access and Equity pilot program.

The program supports initiatives to improve access to a driver’s licence and employment opportunities for young people in regional WA, with $900,600 allocated to projects in the Kimberley and $689,000 allocated to Pilbara projects.

The additional funding brings total investment in the program to more than $3.4m, and will be used to employ more qualified driving instructors and supervisors, increase access to safe vehicles and provide culturally appropriate education and mentoring.

Work is also in progress with Aboriginal translation services to produce publications for learner drivers who speak English as a second language, or for whom literacy is a barrier.

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The Driving Access and Equity pilot program was established last year following the State Government’s Skills Summit where lack of access to driving services, instructors and eligible vehicles was highlighted as a key barrier for youth employment in regional areas.

The Kimberley and Pilbara regions were prioritised for program support after being identified as having a high concentration of disadvantaged drivers.

Although not one of the recipients of funding in this round, Life Without Barriers’ driver training program was last year presented the Regional Safety Award at the 2021 WA Community Achievement awards — highlighting the need for such services.

Life Without Barriers driver training program director Fiona Moriarty said the impact having a licence had on the lives of Aboriginal people living in remote communities was immeasurable.

“If you are living up the Dampier Peninsula and don’t have a licence then it’s really hard to get day-to-day tasks done — you can’t get away from abusive relationships, you can’t drop the kids at school and you can’t easily go and do the shopping,” she said.

“Not having a licence is also one of the single largest barriers for entry to the workforce; you can’t get a job on a mine site without a manual licence, even if it’s not necessarily a driving job.”

Transport Minister Rita Saffioti said she was proud see some $3.4m allocated to multiple projects across the North West.

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