Sixty-eight-year-old Kerry lives on her property in the Moira Shire, along the beautiful Murray River. Since retiring from nursing, Kerry has done anything but take a back seat in her community – instead, she’s committed to driving change and helping those around her as a volunteer mentor.
Over the past 18 months, Kerry has supported two local young people to gain their driver's licence and independence.
The driving support and mentoring program (TAC L2P) assists young Victorian learner drivers who are experiencing barriers to obtaining their driver’s licence. Learners aged 16 to 21 years old are matched with a fully licensed volunteer driving mentor and a practice car to help them complete the required 120 hours of on-road driving experience and gain their probationary licence.
Supporting young people in regional areas to gain driving experience and independence
Kerry was driven to become a trained volunteer mentor to ensure young people in the Hume region don’t miss out on opportunities, like getting their first job.
I live in an area where public transport is really limited, which can obviously be very restrictive, especially for young people wanting to get a job – it’s crucial for them to be able drive.
Since joining the program, Kerry has assisted two learners in gaining their licenses.
“I mentored a young fellow whose job finished at 3 pm, so to save his family the trip, I would pick him up and drop him off home. It worked well, as it meant he could get more driving experience and it was building his independence by not having to rely on his family,” said Kerry.
“Once the young person is getting to a higher level in their driving experience, they then need access to a bigger city with traffic lights, roundabouts and all of that.”
For Kerry and her learner drivers, this means making the three-hour round trip to a city, like Shepparton.
We look for mentors who are happy to help learners in a range of areas, including day driving, longer drives and some night driving. This assists the learner to be more confident when they eventually get their licence and are driving solo.
Volunteer mentors find opportunity to connect and give back to their communities
Supporting her community and the people within it has always been in Kerry’s DNA.
“I really push for volunteerism at all levels – it’s a win-win situation on a personal level and for the community. I believe you get back as much as you give,” said Kerry.
While managing volunteering and other commitments isn’t always easy, Kerry says it's all about balance.
“I work with one young person at a time, which means I get to spend a good chunk of time with them each week,” said Kerry.
And of course, our L2P volunteer mentors don’t do it alone; they are supported by experienced L2P coordinators, such as Jenni. There are many opportunities for volunteers to connect throughout the year, through regular events and other catchups.
“As a volunteer mentor you receive ongoing training and support to build your own skills, which means I've been able to improve my driver confidence. I never used to be good at parallel parking, but now can I do it. There’s a formula to it which I never knew about before, but now I do, and it works!”
Become an L2P driving mentor
Many young people in the in the Hume region (Greater Shepparton and Shires of Strathbogie, Moira and Mitchell) and Latrobe Valley need help to get the driving experience required for their probationary licence.
“Without this program, young people might not get the opportunity to gain their licence. Obtaining their licence, especially in regional towns, makes a huge difference on employability and study options,” said Jenni.
By becoming a volunteer TAC L2P driving mentor, you’ll be supporting young people, like Clare, to become safe, confident drivers.