Volunteers needed to help students get behind the wheel

VITAL STEP: TAFE SA Limestone Coast Education Pathways manager Tania Plunkett congratulates short course participant Khristopher Hood on obtaining his learner's permit. Picture: CHARLOTTE VARCOE

Charlotte Varcoe

A SHORT course helping to give learner drivers experience behind the wheel and insight into licence testing has been strongly supported by Limestone Coast residents.

Mount Gambier’s TAFE SA campus recently held two fully booked Prepare to Drive short courses, which allowed several young drivers to obtain their learner’s permit through an alternative route to the traditional Services SA test.

Participants were also given valuable insight in driving skills and knowledge by trained professionals.

TAFE SA Limestone Coast education pathways manager Tania Plunkett said the program supported people who struggled in a test environment or with anxiety.

“The test is performed in a comfortable setting that does not feel like a test and really takes a lot of the pressure off the students,” Ms Plunkett said.

“Students are able to come in with a support worker if they feel they need to and it also brings a lot of benefits to the community because it helps people achieve their goals to get their learners, helps them improve their employment opportunities and chances.”

Ms Plunkett said the large interest in the program demonstrated a need within the community for the course.

She said there was also evidence of further volunteers needed within the region to assist those struggling to perform the hours needed.

“From various meetings with the community it has shown us there is a need for volunteers to help people get their hours and help the learner drivers get their experience,” she said.

South Australian learner drivers must complete 75 hours of recorded driving, as well as 15 hours of nighttime driving, before being eligible to apply for a Provisional-1 licence.

Khristopher Hood, who participated in the course earlier this year, believed there was a need for more volunteer-based driving support services to help learner drivers accumulate the required hours under guidance.

“It is good to be able to drive my own car and go out and do what I need to do,” Mr Hood said.

“I have friends that are also helping me out with my hours and it is good because I can go where I need to but what I think we do need more of is volunteers to help out because it can be hard to find someone to drive with me when a lot of people are at work all day.”

Mr Hood praised the TAFE SA short course, hoping it remained a fixture within regional areas.

“A lot of people cannot get into Services SA and having the 20-plus people in the classroom at a time rather than the five or so makes it much easier,” he said.

“I found the course was really well run and it did not feel like a test at all, it was more like a one-on-one as well as a classroom environment and was very laid back.”

The next courses will be held at Mount Gambier’s TAFE SA campus on June 15 and at Millicent Football Club on June 16 with registrations necessary.