Youth driving program gets into gear for New Year

Following a successful trial, Eurobodalla Shire Council’s Ydrive program will hit top gear this year with an additional car based in the shire.

HITTING THE ROAD: Narooma's Dylan Harvey-Phillips (right), with driving instructor Alan Close, is the first to graduate from Eurobodalla Shire Council’s latest Ydrive program.

HITTING THE ROAD: Narooma's Dylan Harvey-Phillips (right), with driving instructor Alan Close, is the first to graduate from Eurobodalla Shire Council’s latest Ydrive program.

The council’s innovative driving program pairs disadvantaged youth with volunteer mentors to gain the necessary driving experience to qualify for their P1 licence.

The 2017/18 pilot had 10 applicants. Seven are now licensed – all on their first attempt – with two more to finish soon.

The council’s Ydrive coordinator Angie McMillan said there was room for 30 more learners this time around.

“We already have 16 new young people on the books, with one, Dylan Harvey-Phillips, already qualified,” Ms McMillan said.

“A NSW Community Safety Fund grant has enabled us to buy a second car – now there is one at Moruya and one at Batemans Bay and in time we hope to get another for Narooma.

“We’re still on the hunt for more mentors, particularly in the north of the shire.”

The 12-month program sees volunteers commit to mentoring P-platers for at least two hours each week.

“A safety driving course and professional driving lessons contribute to the required 120 hours, but we’ve upgraded the program this year,” she said.

DRIVE ON: A second car has been purchased for 2019 thanks to Department of Justice funding for Eurobodalla Shire Council’s Ydrive program.

DRIVE ON: A second car has been purchased for 2019 thanks to Department of Justice funding for Eurobodalla Shire Council’s Ydrive program.

 “The new Ycheck gets the kids down to the depot to learn car maintenance, while Ybudget brings in expert help with registration, budgeting to buy and maintain a car, and road safety.”

The program has attracted a lot of attention from other councils and praise from Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) staff.

“The RMS thinks it’s the best project and it should go Australia-wide,” she said.

“It can be a life-changer for disadvantaged young people; those who can’t afford driving lessons, or who lack access to a car or qualified driver.”

The Ydrive coordinator praised the volunteers who made the program possible.

“It’s our mentors who make the program work,” she said.

For more information or to sign up, visit the council’s website and search for ‘Ydrive’. Alternatively, contact Ydrive coordinator Angie McMillan on 0417 359 705, 4474 7456 or email angela.mcmillan@esc.nsw.gov.au

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