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Having a Driver’s License opens up so many doors which many of us take for granted; the independence and freedom that comes with having the skills and knowledge to drive legally; the further identification and documentation one can achieve with just their Learner license (e.g. passports, ochre cards, bank accounts); and the consequent employment, travel, and life opportunities that can then come from having a piece of ID. With great support from DriveSafe NT, getting Learner driver’s licenses for the students in Kalkaringi has become more easily attainable for Wanta over the past couple of years.

The DriveSafe NT team are incredibly busy so can unfortunately only make the journey to Kalkaringi and Lajamanu (460km and 570km South West of Katherine) once per year for a quick day stop over so preparation is key to maximise the number of students that can benefit from their visit! This preparation is focused on documentation and test practice. Working closely with the kids, Wanta helps to create an ID/Employment Profile for them. These portfolios are a compilation of copies of any documents they already have (e.g. birth certificates, medicare cards, etc.), documents they may have prepared at school, such as resumes or letters from work experience in community, and any additional documents that may help them obtain other forms of ID, e.g. school enrolment forms, patient summaries from the clinic, etc. Some students do not have a birth certificate to contribute to the 100 points of ID necessary for a driver’s license so compiling a thorough and diverse profile is necessary…and time consuming! Preparing this throughout their school years enables Wanta staff and the students themselves to keep track of what documents/ID they have, highlight anything they would like to strive to obtain, and means they have a folder ready for them to take with them when they finish school, so they are better equipped and more confident to apply for jobs.

Weekly practice sessions are then hosted in the Wanta Room to work on the student knowledge and understanding of road rules and signs in preparation for the Learner Theory test they can do when DriveSafe NT visit. In addition to discussions about the dangers and effects of drink driving, these sessions include games, quizzes, and individual computer work to support their learning and understanding. The students even get spontaneously quizzed when we are driving home or out on reward trips!

The support of DriveSafe NT stepped up even further over the last year with them delivering a dual pedal, manual vehicle for the students of Kalkaringi and Lajamanu to have lessons in to work towards their Ps. Ellie (Kalkaringi Wanta Director) and Simon (Lajamanu Wanta Director) also received training from Greg at DriveSafe NT to deliver these lessons. With students of varying knowledge and ability in driving a manual vehicle, some are simply unlearning bad habits and tightening up on their manoeuvres, whilst others are learning from scratch! Ellie is currently working one-on-one with three students in the DriveSafe car, incentivising their school attendance with driving lessons, upskilling and building their confidence in the vehicle each week. The ultimate aim is to get students their P’s over the next year or so but the lessons also benefit community in the meantime as they become safer drivers around Kalkaringi/Daguragu. What a set up for such remote communities!

The Wanta programme in Kalkaringi has seen huge success in working with DriveSafe NT, supporting 15 young people in achieving their Ls over the past 3 years! From this, students have gone on to obtain Ochre (Working with Children) cards, USI (Unique Student Identifier) numbers, and First Aid qualifications through Wanta also. We are so proud to be supporting these students in their journey to independence on the road and future employment!

Ellie would like to thank DriveSafe NT, Kalkaringi School and Sport and Rec for their assistance in working with herself and these kids to achieve something so monumental for them and their futures! Ellie and Simon are looking forward to seeing Greg out in their communities hopefully very soon and helping some more students gain their driver’s licenses – watch this space!

Written by Ellie Simmons, Director Kalkaringi Sports Academy.