Roads and Maritime Services passionate about driving change in Aboriginal communities

4 September 2017

Road safety in Aboriginal communities across NSW has taken a positive turn with a record number of people obtaining a driver licence through the NSW Government’s Driver Licensing Access Program.

Principal Manager Aboriginal Engagement George Shearer said the initiative is helping remove the barriers preventing Aboriginal people as well as people from disadvantaged communities in NSW from entering the licensing system.

“In the five years to 2015, there were 87 fatalities, 2772 serious injuries and 2048 further injuries for Aboriginal people across NSW,” Mr Shearer said.

“Aboriginal people are twice as likely to be killed or injured in a crash compared with non-Aboriginal people and through programs such as the Driver Licensing Access Program, Roads and Maritime is encouraging safer driving behaviours.”

Mr Shearer said in the past 12 months, more than 1600 people across a number of Aboriginal communities have obtained a learner or provisional licence through the program.

“This is an amazing achievement not only for the communities involved but for the project officers and delivery partners who have worked to support the journey our customers are completing to obtain a licence,” Mr Shearer said.

“During the 2016-17 rollout of the program, 991 learner licences were issued, exceeding the target by seven per cent which is a fantastic result.

“More than 610 provisional licences were issued, exceeding the target by around nine per cent, allowing the participants to play a more active role in their communities.”

Mr Shearer said the program allows people to access vital services and make positive contributions to their communities.

“Less than half of eligible Aboriginal people in NSW currently hold a driver licence in comparison to seven out of 10 non-Aboriginal people. This program is breaking down the barriers to give Aboriginal people the opportunity to become legal and safe drivers,” Mr Shearer said.

“By helping people obtain a driver licence, this program provides participants with improved access to education and employment opportunities as well as access to health and other community services.

“The demand for more programs has increased as friends and family are seeing the great results and want to be involved.”

Mr Shearer said the Driver Licensing Access Program engaged 14 service providers in 2016-17 to deliver a range of driver licensing access services, culturally appropriate support and resources to 55 communities across NSW.

“Service providers assisted program participant’s with essential resources including financial management, proof of identity, licensing enrolment support, access to roadworthy vehicles, road safety education and coaching, on-road driving experience as well as facilitating employment through driver licensing,” Mr Shearer said.

“We’ve seen this program used as an alternative to sentencing offenders for unlicensed driving and we want to continue making a positive impact on communities across NSW.

“Our teams are really proud to be involved with programs capable of providing our customers with skills and opportunities to benefit them for years to come.”

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