Close to 30 young people from Bathurst and Kelso are taking part in a learn to drive program conducted by Birrang Enterprise Development Company.
The program supports Aboriginal and disadvantaged youth across the region in getting their licenses. The participants are aged between 10 and 25.
The St George Foundation has awarded Birrang a $15,000 grant to support their learn to drive program.
Project co-ordinator Craig Toole said through early intervention, young learner drivers develop the skills required to be safe, confident drivers, and ultimately travel to neighbouring regions to gain employment.
He said that for many Aboriginal and disadvantaged youth, a licence offered the chance to expand their horizons and change the outlook for a positive future.
“The St George Foundation grant has provided us with the means to assist costs for driving test bookings and licensing fees, as well as vehicle maintenance so that our drivers can achieve success in the program,” he said.
“This will assist in eliminating major vocational barriers and overcoming personal financial obstacles.”
The head of St George Foundation Leona Fell added that a driver’s licence was a fundamental tool in securing employment opportunities in rural and remote areas.
“Travel is a necessity for people who live in these regional areas, especially those young people who are actively seeking employment,” she said.
“We are thrilled that the St George Foundation has been able to aid the development of safe and confident young drivers in this community, while also having a positive impact on the overall future employment of disadvantaged youth in Bathurst,” she said.
Aboriginal community development worker for Relationships Australia Bathurst Selina Brandy said the collaboration and support from Aboriginal and mainstream organisations and the community for this initiative had been amazing.
“We’re pleased that Relationships Australia’s partnership with Birrang Enterprises has enabled Aboriginal youth the opportunity of gaining their licence and a pathway of opportunities,” she said.
Throughout the five-week program, participants meet and have classes in the Relationships Australia office each day, with Selina providing support and picking up and dropping off participants to attend using the Bathurst Aboriginal Land Council’s bus.