These are the key messages that Volwing is keen to put out into the community about its Learner Driver Mentor Program (LDMP).
In NSW, a person under 25, with a Learner Driver licence (L plates), needs 120 log book hours before applying to sit the test and move to a P1 provisional licence (red Ps). There is solid science behind these requirements.
But for some young people – vulnerable, disadvantaged, maybe as simple as a single parent family – 120 hours of supervised logbook driving, with a mentor, is impossible. In the Southern Highlands, where 82% of us drive to work, a driving licence is critical to get a job. No mentor. No driving licence. No job.
So Volwing stepped in with its Learner Driver Mentor Program, launching late in 2018, aiming for 15 students per year. Already we have three graduates, three youngsters with red Ps.
The LDMP is a grassroots community based program designed to support vulnerable new drivers, aged between 16 and 24 years, to become licensed by allowing them use of a vehicle for on-road practice while a volunteer mentor supervises them.
Volwing’s LDMP is a partnership. Volwing’s key partner is St Vincent de Paul Society in Bowral. Vinnie knows a lot about vulnerability, but it also knows a lot about dignity and good works. Vinnie stepped up immediately.
To launch LDMP, Volwing needed a partnership with a local driving school. Highlands Drive Safe, locally owned and operated by Murray, Sue and Chris Tyler, stepped up. Highlands Drive Safe provides the first ten log book hours, teaching students to drive before handing them over to our volunteer mentors.
The Learner Driver Mentor Program in the Southern Highlands has funding support from the Australian Government Department of Social Services, from Wingecarribee Shire Council and from Mittagong RSL Club through ClubGRANTS.
The Learner Driver Mentor Program is just one of the volunteer opportunities open to people in the Southern Highlands. But a key feature is that it is inter-generational. Older volunteers are mentoring youngsters. The feedback already is that our mentors are enjoying being a part of the young learners’ lives, even for short periods.
For the record, VolWing insists that our Mentor Drivers must have a full NSW drivers licence, a good driving record, a police check, a working with children check and a willingness to work with people from a wide range of community and cultural groups.
If you are interested in mentoring learner drivers in the Southern Highlands, please contact Volwing on 02 4869 4617.