DRIVING MENTORS ENHANCE EXPERIENCE:
Eighteen-year-old Brisbane-based Zavier believes there would be no chance of gaining his driver’s licence in his teens – which he needs to further his employment opportunities -- without support from The Salvation Army’s Drive 4 Life program.
Not only has the program given him (to date) the opportunity to gain his learner’s permit and many of the hours needed towards his provisional driver’s licence, but he says the mentoring component has also enhanced his confidence and skills.
The Drive 4 Life program (running on various Salvation Army sites around the country) offers often highly disadvantaged young people the opportunity to achieve the mandatory hours needed to gain their provisional licence. The program also stresses respect for the rules of road and for other drivers.
Zavier says: “I left school last year and I’m working and a licence is essential (for my future).
“I’ve also benefitted from the best of each mentors’ experience,” he continues. “With one mentor we did the basics of driving. He then went overseas and I got a new mentor who had been on the road his whole working life -- so we went into the city and all over Brisbane and now I have much more confidence in city and freeway driving than my friends.”
Project worker at The Salvation Army Youth Outreach Service (YOS) Stafford (QLD) site, Wayne Norford agrees that mentoring ‘is the real gold’ in the program, especially for those young people who may not have had healthy adult role models.
(Mentors are vigorously screened and a camera operates in the car at all times.)
Wayne says: “Often a real rapport is developed while seeing each other once or twice a week for 70, 80, 90 hours and these young people see there are good people in this world.
“While we need more mentors to keep up with demand -- and particularly would love to see some from within The Salvation Army -- the quality of mentors we do have is outstanding.”
(Recently, two regular mentors from the Stafford site were awarded scholarships in the 2018 The Salvation Army (TSA) Fellows Program (sponsored by Aged Care Plus) which will enable then to train to become fully accredited driving instructors.)
In the later stages of the program, the YOS participants are also encouraged to give something back to the community in terms of service or volunteering.
“This program ticks so many boxes,” Wayne continues. “It is the closest thing we have in Australia to a rite of passage to adulthood.”
He says: “The young people get a driver’s licence and these are kids that don’t have mums and dads and vehicles at their disposal. A lot of them are really quite trapped by lack of opportunity. We don’t stereotype -- but many have been severely disadvantaged and felt like failures and start with a lot of negative self-talk going on.
“One boy who came in felt trapped and isolated (and was suicidal)- but after starting the program, he literally got moving in his mind. His confidence grew and then a few months down the road he started applying for a course – now he’s got a qualification and a licence and his life is really moving forward,” Wayne says.
“We see those sorts of transformations all the time!”