Bunbury migrants gain licence through community program

Bunbury Multicultural Group Susanne Hamersley, Bunbury Multicultural Services Centre Cheri Musitano, sponsor Soroptimist International Bunbury Beck Tichbon, Michelle Hay, participants Priyanga Jayasinghe and Ivie Liu.
Bunbury Multicultural Group Susanne Hamersley, Bunbury Multicultural Services Centre Cheri Musitano, sponsor Soroptimist International Bunbury Beck Tichbon, Michelle Hay, participants Priyanga Jayasinghe and Ivie Liu.

The confidence gained by earning your drivers licence can not be underestimated, particularly for migrant women who can find themselves isolated in a new community.

To improve this, the Bunbury Multicultural Group and the Multicultural Services Centre partnered up and have successfully done two Driving to Make a Difference programs.

With the help of sponsor Soroptimist International Bunbury, the second program allowed five women to undergo driving lessons with Attitude for Driving's Michelle Hay.

Multicultural Services Centre's Julie Todter said Ms Hay was great with the women because she knew English was not their first language.

"We were lucky to have Michelle as the instructor, she was very flexible, patient and nice," Ms Todter said.

Three of the five women successfully completed the program and now have their driver's licence.

"They are over the moon, they have more independence and confidence," Ms Todter said.

Bunbury Multicultural Group president Susanne Hamersely said now they have had two successful programs, they were hopeful to get funding for a third.

"It is so important for women from culturally diverse backgrounds to be flexible, so if they don't have a license they can't do anything," she said.

"Some women live outside Bunbury and don't have the opportunity to go somewhere and mix with people and you want them to participate in the community so they can feel at home."

Ms Hay said it was a pleasure to be part of the program and it was all worth it when she saw the smiles of the participants that passed the test.

Participant Priyanga Jayasinghe said the program was very helpful and Ms Hay was very patient with her.

She said it improved her understanding of the road rules and now she helps her teenage children with their driving.

Soroptimist International Bunbury president Beck Tichbon said the club loved to focus on local projects and it was great to collaborate with the two multicultural groups.

"It is great to see how worthwhile and the value the program has brought to the participants and their families," she said.