To get your driver’s license as a youth in Taumarunui used to cost over $200 – up to $1000 with lessons, money few young people have.
But thanks to the Social Sector Trials, a government multi-organisation initiative, young drivers are getting licensed for free.
Dianne Bunn, Safe2Go coordinator says “They need a licence mostly to go to work. You’ve got your farming contractors, they need to be able to drive to go to work. Then there is the freezing works, they need to be able to drive there too. Those are just some of the jobs available for youth. If they haven’t got a licence they can’t do any of that.”
Ever since a vehicle was donated by Veolia, a company helping industries to balance environmental sustainability, the programme has taken off.
Young driver Ethan Kite says he couldn’t have done it without the help of the programme.
“I came here today to go for my licence. I’m hoping to get my restricted license next Thursday. It’s all through the programme that this has happened as I couldn’t afford to pay for lessons,” says Mr Kite.
Now 15 young people have passed their restricted licenses, four are sitting the test, and 28 are taking lessons.
Allison Annand, the Taumarunui Social Sector Trials co-ordinator says “We had a number of conversations about what we needed in Taumarunui for young people, and one of the topics that kept coming up was the need for every young person to have a restricted driver’s licence. We felt as a group this opened up huge opportunities to our young people, particularly living in a rurally isolated community.”
The programme, called Safe2Go, is funded at least into next year.