For many years, The Neighbourhood Hub (TN Hub) in Mackay has been running the Migrant Driver’s Education (MDE) Program. The MDE Program has been developed to support migrants in getting a Queensland Drivers licence as well as to help migrants settle into Mackay more seamlessly, engage with community and move through their new lives with more independence.
Claire, who runs the program at TN Hub, explained Mackay’s public transport system is not as practical or accessible as many other metropolitan areas, so holding a Queensland Driver’s Licence becomes essential for everyday life in the regional town.
“It’s a highly valued program, with migrants recognising the necessity of holding a Queensland drivers’ licence for transporting children to school, gaining employment, lessening isolation, and settling into Mackay.”
The MDE program runs for 5 weeks, with participants not only learning about Queensland road rules and sitting a learner’s licence test but connecting and engaging socially. TNHub Volunteers have seen a noticeable increase in the confidence of participants, particularly in their ability to speak English. These volunteers support the program by transporting participants to and from the sessions, while local driving instructors volunteer their time to assist during classes, answer questions and provide encouragement.
On the final day of the 5-week program a local representative from the Department of Transport meets the participants to administer the test and help with revision. This support is essential and reduces the stress that often accompanies visiting and navigating the busy offices at the transport department itself. The participants are also provided with translators if they need additional support.
Claire highlights how these final sessions are some of the most memorable, with a member of the Queensland Police Service attending to speak with participants about living safely in Mackay. These sessions involve the police officer providing important information while also acting as an opportunity for participants to meet and understand the role of police in Queensland. These conversations are vital, as the role of police can vary immensely between cultures. They also grant the officers the opportunity to share in the cultural knowledge and experiences of the participants.
“This [information session] is always reflected by the Police officers as a wonderful exchange in culture for them, as they learn a little more about the background of the many migrants who now call Mackay home.”
It is initiatives like the MDE Program that have such a significant impact on people’s lives. Neighbourhood and Community Centres continue to be some of the most innovative, creative and responsive places for delivering these life changing programs. Neighbourhood Centres are constantly striving to find innovative ways to include and improve the lives of anyone who steps through their doors.
Published 08, November 2022
Written By Taylor Bast