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Drive to Thrive

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Drive to Thrive is Spectrum Migrant Resource Centre (MRC)’s innovative driving program aimed to allow up to 12 newly arrived migrants and refugees to gain a complete understanding of Australia road rules, to access subsidised formal driving lessons, with a community supporter or interpreter if necessary, to obtain the driving licence as well as further 40 hours driving experience after obtaining the licence.

“Driving skills are a key settlement requirement for many refugees and newly arrived migrants. Being able to drive means increased employment opportunities, being able to go shopping or to take children to school, sport and social activities with ease. We often take this for granted, but if you are a recently relocated migrant, you are more likely to lack a social network and might have no access to a friend’s cars to gain driving practice. This is exactly what Drive to Thrive aims to achieve: give them the opportunity to progress in their licence, by providing driving lessons and by buddying them with volunteers to get practice” said Spectrum MRC’s Settlement & Family Services General Manager, Ewa Zysk.

“I have seen countless issues arise within CALD communities from their inability to drive. For example, one of our clients has expressed her extreme frustration and exhaustion of having to go shopping with prams, 4 children and numerous shopping bags by herself on public transport in the rain, or another who has just escaped from a traumatic family violence situation and feels too scared to go on public transport and so stays at home, becoming more and more isolated,” explained Spectrum MRC’s Drive to Thrive Coordinator, Sophie Mast.

“Newly arrived African refugees have a lack of understanding of the systems surrounding driving in Australia. They are over-represented in both road safety statistics and in the legal system for driving-related incidents. There is data showing how African refugee arrivals are likely to encounter a range of common legal problems in the first five years after they arrive in Australia, including driving without a licence and driving without insurance, thus incurring large debts from car accidents,” explained Ms Zysk.

Drive to Thrive is funded jointly by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship and Maurice Blackburn Lawyers (Reservoir), as well as utilising the free services of Driving National’s Road Safety Awareness Program’s course and the support of volunteers.