The Murray Valley Sanctuary Refugee Group has been donated a car to help newly-arrived residents learn to drive, after a government-supported program run by ATEL Employment Services concluded.
ATEL was awarded a tender for funding through the federal Department of Jobs and Small Business' 'Empowering YOUth' initiative to co-ordinate Road2Wheels.
The funds covered ATEL to buy two dual-control 2018 Holden Astra R Hatchs for driver mentoring and chief executive Kellie Howard said it was used over the two-year period of the program, which also included employment support.
"The aim was to help disadvantaged youth receive either their Ls or their Ps, depending on where they were in their lives," she said.
"We found that particularly regionally, not having your licence was a very big barrier to getting employment.
"One of the big things we noticed as an organisation was the confidence instilled in these young people."
There were 100 participants in Wodonga and Wagga over two years, of which 86 per cent gained their learner's licence, 30 per cent gained their provisional licence, 21 per cent were able to buy a motor vehicle and 52 per cent found employment.
Ms Howard said as driver training is not part of ATEL's usual business, the Department had allowed them to donate the cars to a community organisation.
"The Murray Valley Sanctuary Refugee Group have been great supporters of ATEL and vice-versa, so we thought, what better way to help a fully volunteer-run organisation," she said.
"Knowing it was dual-driver was an extra safety feature for them and they were very grateful.
"Hopefully next week, we'll be donating the second vehicle to a charity in Wagga."
IN OTHER NEWS
The car was handed over to Murray Valley Sanctuary Refugee Group president Penny Vine on Thursday.
"We had 40 new families arrive last year, and they are mostly young people, so suddenly we have a large number looking for work and not being able to drive is a huge barrier," she said.
"This is a great thing - the young people have their 120 hours to get and don't have uncles who have been driving for years to help them.
"Having access to a vehicle is a great benefit."
Ms Vine said she was seeking volunteer drives to help teach the refugees.
"There's still a barrier around people who have got the time - four or five hours a week - to take the young people for their practise," she said.
Anyone who can help should email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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