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Things I have learned while being a volunteer mentor driver with the L2P Program


The Casey TAC L2P program helps young people to realise their potential by empowering them to get their driving licence. This program is only made possible by the efforts of volunteer mentor drivers, who are a very diverse group of people—younger, older, retired, full time workers, or from various cultural backgrounds. Here is one such volunteer’s story:

I’m Colin Johanson, a retired corporate manager. I’ve been a L2P Mentor for a few years now and I have learned more from my L2P learners than I ever expected.

My first learner driver was a young Sudanese-Australian man, Thuch. All my preconceived notions of this young fellow were completely and utterly wrong. Thuch is kind, well-mannered, and intelligent. He has firm life goals and his mature outlook, based on a lifetime of experience squeezed into his twenty short years, is amazing.

I asked early on why he wanted to get his license, and the answer came that he wanted to buy a car to drive to work.

“I need money, man!” he said, with a huge smile.

When we started, Thuch couldn’t turn left to save his life, so we practised left-hand turns until I was dizzy. Now, he turns left with ease—and he can reverse and parallel park.

I have learned, above all, to watch the road, and to keep quiet whenever there’s a car or anything else in sight, so as not to distract the learner.

I’ve also learned to speak calmly, like a GPS, and never, ever say “watch the parked car” – because they will, and they always drive in the direction in which they are looking!

In general conversation with your learner drivers, open-ended questions are good, and I very often find that the best answer to anything is just to say “Oh” and nod.

I have experienced much personal growth while mentoring. For example, I can now appear calm in all circumstances, and I am unshockable when hair-raising experiences are shared with me in conversation. Their colourful, sometimes tragic, life stories must be heard to be appreciated.

The worldview of these young people and of their social and family networks varies greatly, but they are all very open and honest. They live the outcomes of their experiences, and the views of those they respect, and they react to life’s challenges accordingly.

During mentor training, we were introduced to a seasoned mentor who said, “I love doing this; it’s better than earning money”. I tend to agree. I’ve always enjoyed the company of young people, but I now have a deeper appreciation for them thanks to the L2P Program.

Would you like to make a difference to others? Then become a volunteer mentor driver.

The Casey TAC L2P Program is a partnership between City of Casey, the Department of Transport, and the Transport Accident Commission. The program is also locally sponsored by Berwick Motor Group.

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