ANGLICARE Victoria is looking for volunteers to become driver mentors to help young people in the Greater Bendigo region get behind the wheel.
Partnering with the Salvation Army - the L2P program provider in the region - Anglicare aims to support young people to overcome barriers achieving their licence and gain essential life skills.
The TAC-funded L2P program assists learners between 16 and 21 years of age who do not have access to a supervising driver or vehicle to gain the driving experience required to apply for a probationary licence.
"Everyone remembers how good it felt to get your P-plates, but the L2P program delivers much more for young people," Anglicare Victoria north-central project worker Beverley Scott said.
"Driver mentors also play an important role in supporting young people to develop many life skills such as organisational skills, conversation skills, as well as confidence and connection with the community."
Sam Hunter, 19, is enrolled in the L2P program in Bendigo and has been learning to drive with a volunteer driver mentor.
"I have two driving lessons a week so I can get my hours up and sit for my Ps - we've started doing some practice sessions in the evenings so I can get experience driving at night," she said.
"I'm nervous to do my driving test, but the L2P program has put me in a position where I think I'll pass."
Salvation Army program co-ordinator Denise Sibenaler said there was a long list of learners waiting to join.
"We have about 45 drivers behind the wheel at the moment, but we'd really like to get that number up to at least 70," she said.
"We have 60 mentors in the system, but because of COVID-19, it's taken a lot longer to get them trained and ready to sit in the passenger seat."
She said it wasn't just the young drivers who benefited from the program.
"We find a lot of people are passionate about lending a helping hand so they find this sort of volunteer work helps them feel fulfilled too," Ms Sibenaler said.
"And it's such a flexible program. If you can only take a driver once a week for a few hours, whether that be after hours or on a weekend, it all helps."
Ms Scott said it was important to help young drivers who might find it difficult to complete their hours.
"Some young people just don't have a trusted adult (or a car) to take them driving to gain the 120 hours that is required to take your test," she said.
"A licence opens up education and work opportunities that are important for young people in regional areas where public transport can be limited."
Ms Scott said people could visit the Anglicare Victoria careers page for more information about the L2P program and learning driver mentor volunteer positions in Bendigo.
She said people could call her on 0429 834 914 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to enquire about applying.
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can access our trusted content: