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SECL's moving feast

From left to right Changing Gears Trainer Nikki (back row) with excited new learner permit holders Hashima, Habiba (with her daughter - front row), Amina, Shokofa, Fatima, Sietara and Asif at the Hampton Park Library.

The Hampton Park public Library is a vibrant place. Many groups meet in the various rooms and it is a veritable hive of activity. It is against this background that SECL Coordinator Andrea Shepherd prepared computers, seating and refreshments to assist the Changing Gears program for Afghani community members Amena, Fatima, Habiba, Raihana, Sietara and her son Asif and Shokofa, and Hashima from Pakistan.

The moving feast

The busyness of the library meant the program had to be held in various sections of the library over the course of the four days. The students adapted well to the moving feast learning the Victorian road rules and how to drive safely with an industriousness and dedication that impressed facilitator Nikki.

Rukhsana and Sahar, our lovely translators

Fortunately, the group was assisted by Bicultural Worker Rukhsana and Federation University student Sahar who were able to act as translators. Andrea, Rukhsana and Sahar worked tirelessly to ensure that everyone understood each of the three modules of the online program perfectly.

Community members show a need for Changing Gears

As the group studied, they were approached by several community members who were eager to join in and obtain their learner permit. However, they had to be turned away as in order to do the course each community member had had to obtain a valid email address, sign up on the VicRoads website, then do the preliminary sign up required to start the online course. Amina also let Nikki know that she was aware of many people in her community who would love to do the program.

“There seems to be a huge demand for the Changing Gears program,” trainer Nikki observed, “the fact that the VicRoads online program is only in English makes it difficult for many refugees to access and complete. This means they need the support of a knowledgeable facilitator and a translator in order to even attempt the task.”

DOT Community Road Safety Grants may be the solution

Nikki was able to offer a solution, “The Department of Transport Community Road Safety grant funding will be released in June. So, we are hoping to have several community organisations that will be able to provide translator assisted programs in the near future.” Nikki took down contact details in order to alert community members as to when these opportunities might be available.

Testing day triumphs

The final day of testing was a tense one. However, everyone had worked incredibly hard. Assisted by translators Sahar and Rukhsana each of the students was able to demonstrate their knowledge of the Victorian Road rules and how to drive safely.

Each passing student was greeted with applause from the group and many hugged Nikki saying, “Thank you teacher.”

Hugs for the teacher, thanks to all

“I in turn, am so thankful to Andrea, Sahar and Rukhsana,” Nikki said gratefully, “this was very much a team effort and without their help we would not have eight new learner drivers on our roads.”

Changing Gears would like to thank SECL and its staff for their tireless efforts to ensure the Victorian Learner permit program is accessible to members of the Afghani, Pakistani and other communities in Melbourne.

From left to right SECL Bicultural Worker Rakhsana with excited new learner permit holders Hashima, Habiba (with her daughter - front row), Amina, Federation University student Sahar, Shokofa, Fatima, SECL Program Coordinator Andrea, Sietara and Asif at the Hampton Park Library.

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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