A decade of mentoring

FORMER learner drivers, their mentors and representatives from the L2P program celebrated another successful cohort, as a new batch of licence holders prepared to get behind the wheel independently for the first time.

Now in its 10th year, the program has seen 189 drivers gain their probationary licence, with 179 volunteer mentors helping young people get on the road.

The initiative has generated strong support from local businesses, who have provided cars for learner drivers to practise in.

With many learner drivers unable to access parental supervision to clock up the necessary 120 hours before going for their licence, the L2P program assists in making it possible for learner drivers to become proficient by providing adult mentors to guide learner drivers in the car.

Those needing to get time behind the wheel may be disadvantaged for a number of reasons, such as not having access to a car, or being in a large family, meaning not everyone can drive at the same time.

Those who attend boarding school are also disadvantaged, as a significant chunk of time is spent away from home.

Maffra resident Kyle Dehmel participated in the program, and has held his licence since April.

“It certainly makes life easier when you don’t have to rely on anyone else having to take you everywhere,” he said.

Mr Dehmel said he was grateful to his mentor Alan Watson, also of Maffra, who spent many hours with him to ensure he gained enough experience to confidently complete his driving test.

“I have to thank Alan a lot, without him coming every week to do my hours I probably wouldn’t have got the hours up as much as I did,” he said.

The L2P program is a statewide initiative, but has its origins in Gippsland.

Wellington Shire mayor Alan Hall said the program enabled young people to “get on with their lives”.

“The other thing which is really important is the community value that this generates,” he said.

“There’s been additional benefits flow from this and clearly the people that mentor obviously get something back so you’ve got intergenerational cooperation which is just fantastic for everyone involved.

“Mentors are engaging with young people, sharing conversations and values and vice-versa.”

Wellington and East Gippsland L2P program coordinator Cheryl Siely said the volunteer mentors were the backbone of the programs success.

“If it wasn’t for our wonderful volunteer mentors we wouldn’t have a program,” she said.

Those wishing to find out more about the L2P program can visit its website.