In regional centres, not having a driver licence can be a real barrier to employment for young people. That’s why OceanaGold’s Waihi Operation is partnering with the new Jumpstart initiative to support Waihi students to get their full licence.

The Jumpstart Navigator program is a partnership between OceanaGold, Waihi College, local Police, Waihi community members and Blue Light – a charity that works with Police to help local young people – and has been designed for young people who may not have access to a reliable vehicle or no licenced adult to teach them how to drive.

Waihi Operation Community Development Advisor, Phil Salmon, said the Jumpstart was launched in February, after discussions with Waihi College about how OceanaGold could provide additional support for students transitioning to work.

“New Zealand has a graduated driver licensing system which means drivers move from a learner to a restricted and then a full licence over two years,” Phil said.

“While the system is designed to help train safe drivers, it can be difficult for young people who do not have regular access to a vehicle or someone to supervise them,” he said.

“The young people who face these barriers are often at-risk youth, and not having a driver’s licence can further perpetuate this by severely limiting employment opportunities.”

Waihi College Careers Co-ordinator, Carolyn Graveson, said without a licence, many young people, especially those in rural areas like Waihi, with no public transport, were disadvantaged.

“It means these students can’t drive a vehicle to work or to a training provider,” Carolyn said.

“Many jobs require a licence before they will employ you, so a program like Jumpstart can have a real, local impact,” she said.

Hauraki District Council Community Employment Liaison Officer, Julie Stephenson, said with the Jumpstart program, Waihi College students got driver training during school hours in a vehicle provided and maintained by OceanaGold.

“To date, eight community members have been trained as Navigators and are rostered on for two hours each week to drive with Waihi College students,” Julie said.

We have 23 students on the course, with over 100 hours of driver training delivered in the first two months,” she said.

“OceanaGold provides and maintains the vehicle, Waihi College organises the driving schedule, Blue Light staff train the Navigator and Waihi students benefit. It’s a great program.”

Hamish is the first Waihi College student to gain his Restricted Licence through the program and said it had been a huge help.

“The program helped get my driving confidence up. I had a lot more time on the road, and the Navigators gave me some great advice that really helped me pass my test,” Hamish said.

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