Licence to Drive program participant Amber Duncan, of Casino, practicing for her Learners licence test with program coordinator and Aboriginal Community Liaison Officer, Jimmahl Williams.
Licence to Drive program participant Amber Duncan, of Casino, practicing for her Learners licence test with program coordinator and Aboriginal Community Liaison Officer, Jimmahl Williams. Claudia Jambor

Helping young people hit the road

DRIVING to school, work or the beach, a driver's licence puts young people on the road to freedom on the Northern Rivers where public transport is almost non-existent.

But learning difficulties and no access to a car is stopping some aspiring drivers from hitting the road.

These adversities is why the Richmond Local Area Command has started the Licence to Drive program.

The course aims to help the 25 participants get their Learner and then Provisional 1 licence.

Crime prevention officer, Senior Constable David Henderson said the initiative aimed to overcome barriers like financial circumstances to support young people in getting their licence.

"Our goal is to get them their Ls and get them some driving hours with instructors and volunteers so they can get their 120 hours up," Snr Const Henderson.

Together with Aboriginal community liaison officer Jimmahl Williams, the pair launched the pilot program at the Casino Regional Library last Friday.

Parents, students and full-time workers are among the 25 selected to participate in the program.

Amber Duncan had her Learner licence but circumstances meant she was unable to complete her driving hours before her licence expired.

Licence to Drive program: The Richmond Local Area Command are running a Licence to Drive program helping young people to pass the test to get their Learner drivers licence.
Licence to Drive program: The Richmond Local Area Command are running a Licence to Drive program helping young people to pass the test to get their Learner drivers licence.

"I'm in a better place to get (my Learner licence), in a steadier job and living in town again," she said.

The 22-year-old said the casual, conversational format of the Learner licence theory session was far from the formal, school-like experience she initially expected.

"It put everyone at ease, nobody was stressed," Ms Duncan said.

"It made it easier for me to talk because I'm pretty nervous in social settings."

Ms Duncan was picked from about 200 applicants who applied for the program, Snr Const Henderson said.

"Once they get their Ls we are going to help them get their Ps, too, with a lot of organisations helping to help give them free driving lessons," he said.

"Hopefully we can get as many of these young people with their licences as possible."

Snr Const Henderson and Mr Williams are now applying for funding from the Lismore City, Ballina Shire and Richmond Valley councils in the hope of running more driver's licence programs.

The pair hope to run programs in Ballina, Casino and Lismore for young people during the school holidays.