A Riverland project that helps First Nations youth obtain driver’s licenses aims to improve their access to job opportunities and build social connections.
- Berri-based program funds driving lessons for First Nations students
- A new report shows that the ability to drive is crucial to finding work
- Program spokesperson says improving access to transportation connects young people to their community
Supported by community group Our Town Berri, Nunga Driving aims to empower students in Indigenous schools by funding their driving lessons.
David Binney, Town Berri member and Native Studies Coordinator of Riverland, who also works at Glossop Secondary School, said the program promotes positive post-school pathways for students and allows them to travel long distances for work, study and play.
He said that without a driver’s license, young people in the Riverland could be denied job opportunities due to the lack of public transport in the area.
“If you live out of town or want to get a job in another city… if you don’t have your license or someone in your family [doesn’t have] a license, it can be very difficult,” Binney said.
Nunga Driving was created after consultation with Indigenous students and the broader First Nations community.
“It was important before we started, to sit down with the Aboriginals and also the Aboriginal youth, just to get their ideas of what was a struggle for them,” Binney said.
Some of the main issues raised included the financial barriers to getting driving lessons, which Mr Binney said a single lesson could cost up to $80.
“Most people need to do about 10 [driving lessons] so you’re looking at $800 there,” he said.
“It’s a big hit for a lot of people.”
Currently, Nunga Driving has two students enrolled, but the program has enough funds to accommodate up to eight students.
Uneven motors hampers connection
On Thursday, the National Youth Commission Australia (NYCA) released a report examining the factors contributing to high rates of youth unemployment and poor educational outcomes.
The report found that access to transport was an important and “often overlooked” aspect of youth employment.
He also found that it often severely limited a young person’s study and work options.
Several recommendations to state and federal governments were presented in the report, including tackling inequality in Australia’s remote and remote regions.
National Youth Commission chairman Major David Eldridge said expanding driver’s license mentorship programs was a key recommendation.
“It’s a bigger problem,” Major Eldridge said.
“It’s about young people’s connection to their community,” he said.