Road to success

Birrang's Brett Naden and Lyndal Robb with the latest recruits for their Aboriginal driver education program, based at the Cowra Information and Neighbourhood Centre for the next five weeks.
Birrang's Brett Naden and Lyndal Robb with the latest recruits for their Aboriginal driver education program, based at the Cowra Information and Neighbourhood Centre for the next five weeks.

It can be a long and arduous process attaining your driver's licence, but that road has been made a little smoother for these Cowra residents thanks to Birrang.

For 10 years, the program has helped Aboriginal people to get their driver's licence, enabling them to access to transport, jobs, education and health services.

Over the next five weeks, these aspiring motorists will learn about road rules and safety before heading to Roads and Maritime Services to sit the test for their learner's licence.

Students will then have a chance to get some hands-on experience guided by Birrang's instructors before eventually going for their P's.

Birrang training manager Lyndal Robb said the end-to-end program sees participants learning the Road User's Handbook through to getting in the car and driving.

She believes the program gives people the practical skills and confidence they need to pass their tests and become safe drivers.

"Having a licence is pivotal to all aspects of life, not just employment. It is key to motivation and self-confidence," Ms Robb

"We do this program through a lot of communities in western NSW and a lot of them ask us to come back because there is a real need in those small communities for some assistance."

Brett Naden also works with Birrang educating drivers and helping them to overcome the barriers to getting their licence.

The former RMS driving tester said the program functions as a circuit breaker for young Aboriginal people.

"It's very helpful to people. People pass on bad habits when they're teaching people how to drive. It's a vicious circle. People may start driving cars unlicenced, then they get pulled over and fined so they can't get their licence for a while but then they can't get a job to work off the fine," Mr Naden said.

"We'd like more people to get involved with the program so we can have more safe drivers on the road and reduce the road toll."

Twenty-three year-old Lynette Whitton is one of the students in the program.

The Cowra resident said she needs a licence in order to pursue TAFE studies in social work in Orange next year.

"This course is very important to me," Ms Whitton said.

The program will run on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 9.30am to 12.30pm at the Cowra Information and Neighbourhood Centre.

To get involved, contact Birrang on 6361 9511 or go to their website: http://birrang.com.au/.