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Challenges, celebrations and learning moments at Cire

Updated: May 3

From left to right: Excited new learner drivers Brayden and Max, with Trainer Nikki, (right).

Cire students are extraordinary. Many face disability, anxiety and depression, extensive challenges in their home lives and a host of other challenges that make just showing up to school in the morning a monumental achievement. The exceptional staff at Cire Community School nurture these students and help them to achieve success.

It is in this environment that the Changing Gears program motivates students and supports them. Like the Cire staff, Changing Gears facilitators gently work with students to transform their attitudes to learning and their own abilities whilst ensuring everyone is ready to sit their learner permit test and drive safely on Victorian roads.

The importance of assessment

Assessment is an important process. Changing Gears has a profound duty of care to the Victorian public to ensure that every student they assess as ready to sit their test takes that responsibility seriously. And that they have the ability to regulate their emotions, apply the road rules and cooperate with fellow drivers on the roads.

A large group of students at the school’s brand-new Monbulk campus proved they were ready to do just that. The group was enthusiastic from the outset with many of its members sharing stories of how eager they were to gain independence through driving.

“It will be great,” Max enthused, “I do boxing, and it will allow me to get around to my training and my games so much easier.”

The group quickly came to grips with the three modules trainer Nikki instructed them in, showing a great outlook on subjects such as “Your Driving Attitude,” and “Sharing the Road.”

Driving in the local community

“I’ve seen so many drivers around here pass people on corners and tailgate,” student Sami commented, “it’s really dangerous.”

“It’s great that you understand that,” Facilitator Nikki praised the group, “and it’s a huge part of why Changing Gears offers this program. The more responsible drivers there are on the roads, the better the roads are for everyone.”

Some of the class joked about what they would do on the roads but overall, Nikki could see that the majority of students in the class were ready to sit their test.

And so it was on the day of the program, everyone assessed as being ready passed with flying colours. A huge shout out to Brady, Brayden, Jacob, Kaius, Liv, Maite, Max, Sami and Tom who have all achieved their learner permits.

Max's birthday bonus

“This is the best birthday present ever,” Max enthused as Nikki presented him with a cheesecake and candles, “not only did I pass my test, but I got a bonus cake as well!”

“As always, we’d like to thank the incredibly patient Disna and Bindi, the VicRoads Mitcham team members that helped us achieve such success,” Nikki said, “without them, these students couldn’t have achieved such remarkable results.”

Shout out to VicRoads, Suzy Murphy and Karen Swankie

It’s also important to thank Cire Community School’s Suzy Murphy who stepped in for Karen Swankie, the previous Changing Gears program coordinator at Cire. Suzy did the role in addition to her normal duties whilst the school refills Karen’s position. She worked hard to ensure everything flowed smoothly.

Suzy had some big shoes to fill. Karen was extraordinary at making sure the students were well prepared for their learner permit journey.

“Karen played a huge part in supporting the students in this way and she developed incredible expertise at doing this. We will miss her,” Nikki acknowledged, “developing such expertise is a huge learning curve. And it is where Changing Gears Facilitators can help, by sharing our training and assessment knowledge.”

How to ensure success

Nikki informed Suzy and the Cire Leadership group that things such as having all the relevant documentation are a big part of being ready, as are making sure students have the maturity to behave well on the roads and obey road rules. This is on top of doing the work to understand the road rules and learn to drive safely.

To ensure this occurs, Changing Gears has created a policy to help client organisations in supporting Facilitators.

“However, it’s important to note that if anyone is ever assessed as not ready,” Nikki told the staff, “it’s never the end of the line. Anyone who is not yet ready is more than welcome to return for a later program and ultimately to achieve their goal. We at Changing Gears want to set everyone up for success. That is our promise to you and your students.”

Excited new learner permit holder Tom, at the entrance to VicRoads Mitcham .

Possibilities open up

Driving opens up so many possibilities for disadvantaged young people. Classes are supportive, students and trainers inspire each other, showing the way for young people to overcome their obstacles to driving and experience success.

Click here to subscribe and find out about delivery of the Changing Gears program.

Call 1800 766 361 to find out more about Changing Gears.

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