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Finding our Voices at BSL Broadmeadows

Photo caption: From left to right: staff, students and learner permit holders outside VicRoads, Coolaroo. Youth partnership Coordinator Djibril, Ahlam, Tahani and Sandra. Changing Gears trainer Nikki, Neven, Hiba, and Maureen.

Trainer Nikki was treated to a warm welcome from Youth Services Coordinator Djibril Diallo when she arrived at the BSL Broadmeadows offices on Monday, October 24th.

Students Ahlam and her sister Tahani, Hiba, Maureen, Neven, Sandra, Idris and Jusif were there are rearing to go.

BSL supports learning

When they filled out forms, it was discovered that Ahlam and Tahani were over twenty-five, which was outside the remit of the BSL program.

“You are welcome to stay,” Djibril told them, “we’ll help you find support in other agencies after you complete this program.”

Gaining independence a priority

Nikki was very appreciative, “Thanks Djibril, it’s really empowering for young people to begin their driving journey and gain independence,” she added.

The language barrier proved to be a bit of an issue for some of the students who were newer to the country. The group got around this by some of the more experienced young people translating for their fellow students. Youth services coordinator Sarah also helped the students with unfamiliar words and phrases.

A strong sense of community

“I’m so proud of you all,” trainer Nikki said at the end of the day, “you have really created a spirit of cooperation here, which is a great way to ensure everyone’s success and develop friendships.”

At lunchtime on the second day, the students were asked to participate a discussion on the upcoming Voice referendum lead by youth coordinators Grace and Casey (as had happened at Frankston the week before).

The voice, an important conversation

The students were provided with some history of the indigenous experience in Australia since British settlement and an in-depth description of the principles behind the referendum.

“You are now better informed than about ninety percent of the population,” Grace smiled as she finished up. Many of the students went on to look at social media with Grace’s help and did a bit more study of the situation.

Another important conversation

Following the discussion, it was clear some of the students had something on their minds. Trainer Nikki found they related to the indigenous history as many of them had experienced racism at their schools.

“I’m so sorry that happened to you,” Nikki empathised, “It’s really hard when people are intolerant. I think one important thing to remember is that sometimes people can be a bit afraid of other groups that are unfamiliar. So just as we heard Grace speak about the voice, you can all express your perspectives to those who are being racist. You are ambassadors who can educate people and change their opinions one conversation at a time.”

The students thanked Nikki and seemed to move forward through the day feeling more empowered.

Unfortunately, the Voice discussion took an hour and a half, so Nikki had limited time to complete the second day program but the students worked diligently then and on day three to understand the material.

VicRoads Coolaroo welcome

On the Thursday, the group was greeted by Manager Bernadette at VicRoads Coolaroo and helped through processing by Bernadette and team member Adrian.

One by one, they went in to sit their tests. Sandra did brilliantly, achieving a score in the nineties, but other students were not as successful.

Success comes in many forms

“That’s ok,” trainer Nikki said, “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.”

Over the following weeks, Nikki assisted the students to obtain their learner permits achieving success for those who attended.

“This was a challenging experience,” Nikki commented, “but ultimately the students all succeeded in completing the course, having a positive interaction with a government department and learning more about Australian history and how we can all work together to fight racism and injustice in our society.”

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.

Tags: #BSL, #Brotherhood of Saint Laurence #Broadmeadows, #BSL Broadmeadows, #community, #community education program #safer roads #l plates, #learners permit, #road safety, #student driving program, #ChangingGears.

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