Driving confidence

A lack of family and community networks and language barriers often restrict opportunities for migrants to access services and participate in Australian life, but women at St Anthony’s Community Hub in Victoria are building community networks, language skills, and confidence by learning to drive through the New Arrival Road Safety Program.

Women from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities can face particular challenges as they settle in Australia, particularly social isolation. The Transport Accident Commission and the Royal Automotive Club of Victoria (RACV) commissioned research to learn more about the road safety issues facing new migrants, and developed the New Arrival Road Safety Program, which aims to connect migrants with their new community and address social isolation.

“In our application to Roadsafe South East, we stipulated that our target group would be women given they are often socially isolated and lack confidence or capacity to pursue their goal of obtaining a Victorian Drivers’ Licence without peer support and a structured program,” says Lisa Occhietti, St Anthony’s Noble Park Community Hub Leader.

With the successful application for funding from Roadsafe South East, the program includes six weeks of theory with visits from Victoria Police, Springvale Monash Legal Service, and the Sheriff’s Office.

Marie, a parent from St Anthony’s Community Hub, completed the program this year.

“I am more aware about road rules and feel more confident…when the weather is bad I can drive my child to school and go to playgroup”.

Ms Occhietti was successful in applying for further funding through VicRoads Community Road Safety Grants Program on behalf of St Mary’s Primary School, which has enabled her to deliver the program with participants from St Mary’s and Dandenong Primary School. At the end of the program, 12 participants will be given six driving lessons.