When Babel and Awia Youkhana fled war-torn Syria they could only dream of a life where they could have the freedom and independence to drive a car.
On Monday, that dream became a reality when the siblings graduated from the NRMA DriveTime program – a six-month pilot driver-licensing program for refugees resettling in Australia.
Ms Youkhana said the program, which is a partnership with Gymea Community Aid and Information Service, allowed refugees like herself to use the road system “efficiently”.
“The program provides support to us as refugees to improve our language related to driving and road safety and to also understand the road rules,” the 24-year-old said. “Obtaining a driver’s licence is an important step for refugees in the first stage of settlement.”
Multiculturalism minister Ray Williams presented the 26 graduates from Fairfield with certificates at a ceremony at Cabra-Vale Diggers on Monday.
The Youkhana siblings were part of the 22 graduates who obtained their learner’s licence and are now working towards getting their provisional licence. “I will be able to go wherever I want in Australia – my work, my study – wherever I want to go,” Mr Youkhana said of what he is looking forward to the most about getting his licence.
“The program has been very helpful and I recommend it to all refugees.”
NRMA chief executive Rohan Lund said the privilege of driving is critical to “enjoying life” and gaining financial and personal freedom.
“As a mobility driven organisation the NRMA can work with refugees and migrants to increase their access to mobility by breaking down the barriers to getting a licence,” he said.
Volunteers are still required in the Fairfield area to help participants prepare for their learner licence test or supervise their driving.
- Details: mynrma.com.au/drivetime.