By CASEY NEILL
LEARNER drivers in Greater Dandenong need a helping hand to get behind the wheel.
The L2P learner driver mentor program helps young people without access to a car or licensed driver.
It pairs them with supervising drivers to clock up the 120 hours of practice they need to apply for a probationary licence.
L2P has just received a second car, from Booran Holden, but needs more mentors to cut its 100-learner waiting list.
Program co-ordinator Yohana Jury said there were about 85 boys on the waiting list and 25 girls.
“And we’re struggling to find female mentors. We match female with female and male with male,” she said.
Mentors receive training from VicRoads and are only asked to volunteer one hour each week for a year.
“But they can still take holidays,” Ms Jury said.
Leaners receive professional driving lessons before they’re matched with a mentor.
Peter Sutton has been a mentor for 14 months.
“I’m retired so it provides a lot of challenge in meeting people and organisation,” he said.
“And I’ve realised I’m not a bad guy as a mentor driving instructor.
“I don’t get upset at buses and fire engines and whatever else comes up.”
Mr Sutton said there was more to the lessons than just driving.
“I’ve learnt a lot about the Hazara community, which coming from a country background I’ve never had any experience with,” he said.
“I find also I’m becoming a defender of refugees in the community.
“I hope I’ve been able to give people a better idea of what it’s really like in Dandenong and what the refugees are really like as people.”
Mr Sutton said the learners were safe and there was plenty of support from Ms Jury.
“If you don’t think they’re right, send them back,” he said.
“You’re not just thrust out on the road and then left with them.”
Supervising drivers must be aged over 25, hold a full Victorian driver’s licence, have a good driving record and pass police and working with children checks.
Call Ms Jury on 9793 2155 to get involved.