Birrang driving school to instruct indigenous and disadvantaged Karuah people

TUITION: Birrang driving instructor Brett Naden will help Karuah residents like Darren Weatherall get on the road. Picture: Sam Norris
TUITION: Birrang driving instructor Brett Naden will help Karuah residents like Darren Weatherall get on the road. Picture: Sam Norris

INDIGENOUS and disadvantaged people from Karuah will receive free driving tuition to help get their licence.

The five week course will cover the theory and practical components of driving.

Darren Weatherall, 28, has been on his L’s for a few years and looks forward to being able to drive his young family around.

Between his job at the Karuah RSL and raising a young family he said it had been difficult to find the time.

“My partner hasn’t got a licence either so this will help both of us,” he said.

“If the kids are sick and need to make the dash to Raymond Terrace or Maitland it will really help.”

Police from the Port Stephens Local Area command made contact with Birrang Enterprise Development Company, from Orange in central west NSW, who will deliver the program.

The Karuah Local Aboriginal Land Council welcomed the idea and provided its community hall to Birrang for free. Application fees to Roads and Maritime Services for the permits are also covered.

More than 20 people have already signed up and they range from 16 years up to 55, but there’s no age limit on the program.

Participants will attend three sessions a week, that will include road theory from 9am to 1pm, then an afternoon of driving instruction for those already on their L’s.

Birrang also helps learner drivers work out a payment plan to clear any outstanding fines.

Until these fines are cleared learner drivers cannot progress to their provisional permit.

“We want people to get their L’s and P’s so they don’t get done for driving without a licence,” Birrang driving instructor Brett Naden said.

“This is only our second time east of the Great Divide but we had great success at Taree recently and we’d like to do more out here.”

Less than half the eligible Aboriginal people in NSW currently hold a driver's licence compared to seven out of 10 non-Aboriginal people, found a report by the Audit Office of NSW in late 2013.

For more information about the Birrang Enterprise or its driver programs visit www.birrang.com.au or call 6361 9511.

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