IT HAS been 10 years since a former Bass Coast Police sergeant launched a driving program for young people in the area.
The L2P program was so successful, VicRoads got involved early-on to see it rolled out across the state.
Following his retirement as a sergeant at the Wonthaggi Police Station, Steve Johnson worked to establish a driver mentoring program for young people.
“It started with driver safety courses for the Sudanese community and from that it morphed into helping the younger population,” Steve said.
He built up a network of volunteer mentor drivers, fortunate to still have many connections within the Bass Coast community from his work as a sergeant.
About a year after his retirement, VicRoads approached him, interested in the program assisting the Sudanese community, and offered to fund an ‘L2P’ program.
It meant the team could go out and purchase a car, suiting the program’s target audience of people who didn’t have access to a car or tutor.
Soon after, Steve and his team of volunteers approached Wonthaggi Neighbourhood Centre coordinator Jan Bourne and asked if they could use a space as a base for the program.
“I indicated to her that we’d like to run this program and she said ‘We would love to!’
“It was effective, cheap, and it gave us room to operate and use the house as a meeting point.”
Each month, Steve Johnson would shout the volunteer driving mentors a coffee and have a chat about driving issues and how to improve the program.
VicRoads asked Steve if he’d be willing to go to councils and help set up the program in other shires and city councils and soon enough he was in areas such as Footscray.
The L2P program runs in more than 50 Victorian municipalities, 10 years after the program first launched in Wonthaggi.
After about three and a half years as the program coordinator, Steve called it a day and for the second time retired.
“Every now and then I see one of my former students driving around town,” he said.
For more information on the L2P Program, call Leanne Tilley on 0467 590 679.