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L to R: ETC Business Relationship Manager for the North Coast – Andrew Goodchild, ETC Board Deputy Chair – Lorraine Penn, Driving Assistance Program Coordinator Angela Stone, Driving Instructor Ben Benson.

There’s a shiny new set of wheels zooming around the Northern Rivers and it’s helping disadvantaged members of the community to gain their license.

A $20,000 grant from the ETC Community Support Fund enabled Home Assistance and Regional Transport (HART) Services Inc to purchase a dual operated learner driver vehicle for their Driving Assistance Program.

Running for the past 2 years, the Driving Assistance Program was limited to the number of people it could help due to not having enough vehicles to support the demand. Driving Instructor Ben Benson said thanks to the new vehicle, HART was able to double the number of lessons provided.

“Also the car is much smaller than our existing Rav4 and will help reduce anxiety for new road users. Our larger car can be quite intimidating for some people. The car we were able to purchase, thanks to ETC, is much smaller, nice and simple to drive, and has a reduction in blind spots,” Mr Benson said.

HART Services CEO Colleen Thomas said according to Sustain Northern Rivers Transport Survey 2013, the region was well known to be highly disadvantaged when it comes to transport options

“In local Aboriginal Communities in particular, licence and vehicle ownership is comparatively very low and distances can be prohibitive for people, particularly young people needing to attend Centrelink or training courses,” Ms Thomas said.

Driving Assistance Program Coordinator Angela Stone said the program was life changing for participants by giving them the confidence, skills and knowledge to drive safely and gain their provisional drivers licence.

“This has also increased opportunities for them, including access to social activities, essential services, education, training and employment,” Ms Stone said.

Find out more about the Driving Assistance Program.

ETC Deputy Chair Lorraine Penn said it was a pleasure to be able to support HART Services.

“The ETC Community Support Fund is designed to help organisations reduce disadvantage, generate opportunity, increase support services and/or build capacity in the communities in which we operate,” Ms Penn said.

“ETC is proud to be a not-for-profit company and we are confident the money we are donating will help make a more positive future for our community.

Find out more about the ETC Community Support Fund.



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