BackTrack Activates Our Village To Get Young People On The Road!

Published on August 9, 2022 by BackTrack Youth Works.

This year, BackTrack has supported twelve young people to achieve their learner and provisional drivers licences,
with many more chomping at the bit to make this milestone happen for themselves.

We know that in regional and rural communities, a licence can be the crucial qualification that gets you a job…or disqualifies you from one. In the trade sector, being able to travel long distances between worksites is an employer expectation. Plus, being able to drive can help young people stay connected to their community and keep social isolation at bay!

But for the vulnerable young people BackTrack supports, just getting behind the wheel in the first place comes with complexities. Low literacy and minimal funds can bar them from sitting and passing a L’s test, while soaring fuel and vehicle prices, busy families or even the absence of a caregiver altogether make clocking up the required 120 supervised driving hours a formidable challenge.

But BackTrack has never been one to retreat from a challenge! We have been able to activate some incredible partners through our newly established driving program. This includes Empowr Mobility; a social enterprise seeded by the National Road Safety Partnership Program. They are currently operating a state government-supported, NSW-based pilot that gives young people access to 5-star ANCAP vehicles. Thanks to a partnership with Essential Energy, Empowr has donated a ute to BackTrack to use for driving lessons. We have even been lucky enough to secure
a generous community grant through the local Armidale Ex Services Club which will pay for the running costs to keep the vehicle on the road.

Then, there’s the matter of actually learning! The Rotary Club of Armidale has stepped in to donate $10,000.00+ to fund these driving lessons with Armidale driving school, Aussie Blu. With multiple BackTrack kids vying for supervised hours, the company is taking a rotating group of eager learners out every Friday afternoon. Aboriginal-owned and operated organisation, Birrang Enterprise Development Company Ltd, has also been a key player
to date. As well as supporting our young people through culturally affirmative driving lessons, Birrang has contributed funds towards L’s and P’s tests and helped them prepare via practical workshops.

Our local Armidale police have got in on the action, regularly turning up during their time off to help. In keeping with their longstanding support of our programs, even the Superintendent ha jumped in the ute with young people to give them some valuable supervised time behind the wheel!

With road transportation accidents being the second highest cause of death for young Australians aged 15 – 24,
driver safety is a hugely important consideration amongst our young people. One creative way we are working on this
is through the use of CAR[A]; Empowr Mobility’s phone-based app which evaluates a young person’s driving performance (using metrics of acceleration, braking, cornering, phone usage and speeding). Kids can even record how they were feeling while driving, pairing this with real-time data to better understand how their mental state might affect how they act behind the wheel.

Our team already have their eyes set on the next milestone for the driving program – having young people participate
in the PCYC Safer Drivers Course, thanks to funding from the Jenour Foundation. As well as providing plenty of practical tips, successful completion of the course results in 20 hours being added to their log book; a very exciting proposition for our kids inching towards the hefty 120-hour goal.

At BackTrack, we’re big believers that it takes a village to make these outcomes happen for young people. Hats off to
the individuals and organisations who are lending a hand! To learn more about our driving program, check out our segment with 7News New England (starts at 8.18)

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