Youth Development Coach, Djibril with future Learner Driver, Omar and his mother at VicRoads Coolaroo.
An old friend at Roxburgh Park
June 27th saw Changing Gears trainer Nikki travel to colourful Roxburgh Park in Melbourne’s northern suburbs on Monday, June 27th. She was greeted there by Youth Development Coach Djibril of the Brotherhood of Saint Laurence and students Abdul, Fatima, Idris, Omar, Rani and Sandra.
Sandra’s older sister Sylfia had completed the course in February of 2023, so Nikki was delighted to see her as she came to drop her younger sister off. Sylfia was progressing well in her driving journey, enjoying her red P plates.
“Your big sister did the online course,” Nikki explained to Sandra, “which was very difficult in English but you will receive the benefit of being able to complete the ‘in-person’ training. This will be very helpful in understanding the course and the final test itself.”
The importance of Eid
The students were a quiet group, and quickly it transpired that many would have difficulty attending the rest of the course due to the festival of Eid, which all the students would be participating in.
“We initially had ten sign up to do the course,” Djibril reported, “but due to travelling to Sydney and other Eid commitments, four have had to pull out.”
“That’s ok,” trainer Nikki replied, “Changing Gears is a flexible course, so we will work with everyone to ensure they receive the maximum instruction in the time they have.”
The importance of safety
The first day, all the students learnt about sharing the road with others and raised very good discussion points about safety on Victorian roads.
“I’m really happy with everyone’s progress and their wonderful attitude to driving,” trainer Nikki told Djibril.
Students do double duty
The second day, only three students were able to attend due to Eid commitments.
It transpired that none of this group could attend the third training session, so trainer Nikki put the students through their paces teaching them both the “Signs and Rules” and “Sharing the Road” modules, then asking them to complete tests until they got over ninety percent.
“All the students did really well,” trainer Nikki told Djibril, “if they are able to practice doing tests, they should have no problems at Thursday’s VicRoads testing date.”
Wednesday saw only Rani attend. Once again, Nikki did the same as on Tuesday, going through two modules and requesting he complete a practice test. Youth Development Coach, Musa attended as Djibril himself also had Eid commitments.
Great to meet Bernadette
Thursday, the date of the tests was very chilly but Djibril and Nikki excitedly met Bernadette Damo, the new Manager of VicRoads Coolaroo.
Omar and Abdul were in attendance even though Omar was not turning sixteen until the following week. Nikki consulted with the very kind and professional Bernadette to ensure Omar had the correct paperwork when he attended the following week, and made him an appointment.
“The correct paperwork is really important,” Bernadette pointed out, “otherwise young people cannot sit their test. If a passport is over one year expired or an Immicard over two years expired, young people must produce evidence of the correct visa to sit the test.”
With this helpful information, Omar was able to rest in the knowledge he had the correct paperwork for his test the next week.
Abdul has success to celebrate at Eid
Abdul passed with flying colours, whizzing through the test very quickly. In under an hour, he and his proud father and grandfather left, Abdul’s learner permit firmly in hand.
Rani arrived quite late due to Eid commitments and unfortunately didn’t pass. However, he was close and Nikki scheduled another appointment for him the following week.
“I have faith in you,” Nikki encouraged Rani, “you’ve shown commitment to walk here and be here, and I know that if you keep trying, you will succeed. You have great character.”
“Thank you miss,” Rani replied humbly.
Every experience is a learning experience
Unfortunately, the other students were unable to attend.
“This is a good learning experience,” trainer Nikki commented, “clearly Eid is a vital holiday for many students in the Roxburgh Park community. In future I will be sure to check that the Changing Gears program does not coincide with this very important holiday, thus ensuring participants are not forced to choose between family and spiritual commitments and obtaining their learner permit.
A big thank you to VicRoads Coolaroo
We would very much like to thank Bernadette and the Coolaroo office for their kindness and flexibility with so many students being unable to attend. Their help and support is very much appreciated and the Changing Gears program will work to ensure more comprehensive attendance in future.
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.
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