Springboard Community Works in Snells Beach has launched a new driving academy to help improve the chances of young people getting jobs and to bolster road safety.
Springboard youth mentor Shelldon Holdsworth says many jobs require a minimum of a Restricted Licence, but gaining one can be out of reach for youth in difficult circumstances.
“Some of the young people in our area don’t have access to a vehicle or someone to teach them.
Perhaps they have a solo mum for a parent, who has to spend much of her time working to support the family. There is no money to pay for instruction,” he says.
Shelldon says this situation means some young people never progress beyond a Learner’s License and tempts them to drive illegally.
“That’s when young people have crashes. Recently, a young guy in our programme spent two weeks in a coma following a crash.”
To address the problem, Springboard put Shelldon through a two-week AA intensive driving instructor course last month. He can now give instruction as competent as any driving school.
Sponsors have come on board to provide a car for the instruction, and Springboard plans to convert it to a dual-control vehicle soon. Shelldon says it’s all part of Springboard’s goal to provide practical help to youth needing extra support. The driving academy complements the organisation’s other work including with youth offenders, those facing financial hardships and those struggling to find work.
Shelldon adds that the driving course was expensive but well worth it, giving him a far better ability to detect hazards and pass on that insight to young people.
“We will be training the next generation of drivers to be driving much more safely,” he says.
Currently, 19 youths have been accepted into the driving academy. Shelldon admits that there has been one nerve-wracking incident, when a student mistook the gas pedal for the brake. Fortunately, the instruction was taking place at a deserted Martins Bay carpark and no harm came to the vehicle or its occupants.
“We’re going to have those moments. It’s all part of it,” Shelldon says.
Springboard is eager to secure additional funding to keep its driving academy running. If you can help, call Springboard on 425 4623.