Page 1639 - Week 06 - Tuesday, 7 May 2013
MS BURCH: I thank Ms Porter for her question. The learn-to-drive program was an initiative that came out of a 2011 multicultural jobs round table that I hosted in November of 2011. This was a round table that I convened after meeting with leaders of the multicultural community, particularly the South Sudanese community, which is one of the growing communities here in Canberra, with many of them arriving to Australia as refugees.
I heard from many South Sudanese that finding employment in Canberra was proving difficult. So I convened a round table to look at how our community and the government can better work together to support and help them contribute to our city. The key barriers to employment identified at the jobs round table included lack of networks in the Australian workplace, experience, a lack of support for social enterprises and a lack of English language skills.
It was identified at the round table that learning to drive can often be an expensive process and especially costly for people in our community on low incomes and from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. Through the Office of Multicultural Affairs, the ACT government allocated $15,000 to support a learner driver training program. Last year three multicultural community members trained as driving instructors with scholarships funded through the enhance the multicultural sector program.
The ACT government has worked in partnership with MARSS, the Migrant and Refugee Settlement Service, to bring the program to fruition. MARSS has purchased a new car with dual controls, which will be used for lessons. The Hellenic Club has come on board by providing $4,000 to help cover petrol costs.
This is a great example of the whole community working together to help others and another example of the success of our community clubs model here in the ACT. I was pleased to launch the program last week with MARSS. I know that Mr Coe was there. He attended the launch and he heard for himself just how welcome this program has been and the difference that it will make not only for those who have now directly skilled up as driving instructors but also the ripple effect for many of the new arrivals in our community.
MADAM SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Ms Porter.
MS PORTER: Minister, has there been much interest from the migrant communities in taking up this program?
MS BURCH: In short, there has been significant interest in this program. As of last week, 90 people had signed up for lessons which will be offered Monday through to Friday throughout the city and through the three accredited driving instructors. This is significant, given that the program is a targeted one which aims to support those who would otherwise not be able to afford professional driving lessons.
MARSS has set up rigorous eligibility criteria, and that includes: participants must be a migrant or a refugee; they must be on Centrelink benefits and earning less than