Port's Driving Change program needs more mentors

PROUD: Driving Change mentor Matt Dodd with student Katie Baira.

PROUD: Driving Change mentor Matt Dodd with student Katie Baira.

MORE mentors are needed for the Driving Change program if it is to continue creating success stories.

The program, which aims to instill Aboriginal youths and adults with driver awareness, has five mentors.

The mentors - including co-ordinator Peter Kafer, a Port Stephens councillor - are helping around 20 Indigenous people living in Port Stephens to obtain their licence.

Matt Dodd, from Raymond Terrace, knows how hard it was to live without a licence, which is why he is helping others to get theirs through the Driving Change program.

"The 11 years I didn't have a license, I struggled with employment," Mr Dodd said.

"It is great that there is a program like this. There should be more of them.

"Being a mentor has changed my life. It has given me a sense of self pride."

Mr Dodd said his proudest moment would be when Raymond Terrace mother of three Katie Baira got her licence.

Ms Baira said a licence would mean the world opening up for her, allowing her to get out and about independently without public transport hassles.

The program was an initiative of the George Institute of Global Health.

A range of programs and services available through the program help participants access birth certificates, practising with a learner driver and assisting with legal support for driving with licence-related offences.

Mr Kafer said the program went beyond helping people get their licence.

It created community connections and, on plenty of occasions, mentors offered more than driving advice.

If you want to become a mentor for the Driving Change program, you can contact Mr Kafer by calling him on 0414 857 457 or email him at pkafer@georgeinstitute.org.au.

Mentors will need to have a good driving record, be 25 years or older, have their licence and be willing to undergo a police check.

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