Drive My Life – Taraiwa Mataora is a community mentoring driver licencing programme, delivered by Southern REAP, to the vulnerable members of the Invercargill and Southland communities. It teaches the necessary knowledge and skills needed to obtain a learner, restricted and/or full driver licence, reducing the number of unlicenced drivers on our roads. It also provides exposure to best practice through access to Road Safety tools and resources e.g. NZTA/ACC Drive Toolkit.
NZTA’s communities at risk register identifies Invercargill city and Southland district as high risk areas for young drivers, with Invercargill city being rated as the highest risk nationwide. Within the youth driver group there is a high level of licence breaches with access to resources and the support required to progress through the Graduated Licensing System often being a barrier.
Southern REAP have been delivering educational opportunities to our rural communities in order to make a difference to people’s lives for 38 years and the Drive My Life programme fits well. Police, Road Safety Southland and ACC began the programme in 2017 with a small group from MYPLC (Murihiku Young Parent Learning Centre). Officially launching in 2019, Drive My Life has established itself as a successful programme and now works on a referral basis from many organisations and groups such as, but not limited to, the Department of Corrections, IWI Community Panel and the Ministry of Social Development.
2019 saw the programme delivered to 180 participants with a growing waiting list of over 170 – exceeding budgeted numbers. There is a clear need for this programme to grow and develop throughout the entire Southern region.
Police have successfully used the programme as an alternative pathway to try and keep people out of the justice system which led to Drive My Life being named as a semi-finalist at the National Evidenced Based Policing
Awards in 2019.
“The success of the Drive My Life programme extends beyond the participant obtaining their full driver licence. The individuals are equipped with increased knowledge of the road rules, receive professional instruction and complete a defensive driving course, giving them the tools needed to be much safer drivers on our roads.” - Jonelle McDowall, DML Manager
Community Trust South has a focus on creating a “positive change for our people” and Drive My Life epitomises this. Offering a pathway where people can obtain a driver licence is a life changer for many. Selfesteem rises, job opportunities open up, a qualification is obtained and the risk of getting immersed in our criminal justice system lessens.