Career News, Careers & Training

Lowes Petroleum gets behind program helping Indigenous youth secure their licence

As many transport operators can attest, finding drivers can prove difficult, with many companies desperate to attract more people behind the wheel.

The On-Country Pathways’ Driver-Mentor Program is helping with the first step, assisting Indigenous youth to accumulate the driving hours needed to get their car licence.

Albury Wodonga’s Jebb Hutchison oversees the On Country Pathways programs which provide opportunities assisting local Indigenous youth with everything from life skills to work readiness.

In regional and rural areas, a driver’s licence is a pre-requisite for many jobs and a must have for access to health services, education and training providers and civic and social amenities.

With over 500 plus employees, and as many as 60 per cent on the road at any given time, regional fuel transporter Lowes Petroleum understands how important a drivers’ licence is – throwing its support behind the On Country Pathways Driver-Mentor program with free fuel.

Hutchison said the partnership came at a pivotal point for the On-Country Pathways’ Driver-Mentor Program.

“We have 40 young First Nations learner drivers on our books looking to reach their 120 supervised driving hours and gain their independence – and many more enquiries,” he said.

“The whole country is talking about the increasing costs of living. For some families, fuel for driving lessons and logbook hours is a luxury. With Lowes Petroleum fuel sponsorship we can afford to help more young people change their lives. This literally allows us to keep our fleet of vehicles on the road longer.

“We understand that a driver’s licence is more than a document – it’s a gateway to opportunities. For First Nations youth aged 16 to 24 years, overcoming barriers to obtaining a licence is crucial. By providing access and mentorship, we empower them to navigate toward a brighter future, driving positive change in their communities.”

Lowes Petroleum’s North-East Victoria and Southern NSW sales manager Peter Moore said: “We’re deeply committed to the prosperity of rural Australia. Our support for initiatives like the On-Country Pathways’ Driver-Mentor Program in Albury, Wodonga, and surrounds, reflects this dedication.

“While our memories for many things fade, no matter what age you are – I think we can all remember how we felt when we got our drivers’ licence. The feeling of freedom and independence.”

Moore continued, “This is such a great endeavour that is empowering not only young people – but young rural people and Lowes Petroleum is proud to play a small role. By providing petrol many more students can enrol and achieve the hours that would have previously been seen as impossible.

“With a shortage of transport drivers across Australia, largely due to the ageing workforce, we reckon it would be amazing if one of these graduates ends up working for us!”

Gunditjmara woman Chloe Sargeant, who is one of the mentors in the program, said: “Not having a driving licence is one of the biggest barriers to employment for First Nations youth in regional and rural areas. Obtaining those 120 hours with myself and our other driver-mentors, who are all local First Nations community members, is a game changer.”

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