Community Road Safety High on the Radar

Road safety for all has been a focus at Cire Community School in recent weeks with the delivery of Changing Gears, a tailored pre-Learner driver education program, and also a Looking After our Mates (LAOM) presentation.

The sessions were funded through Community Road Safety Program (CRSP) grants from the Department of Transport and Planning. The program is extremely competitive, and Cire has been fortunate to have received funding for successive years, including for Safer Drivers and Passengers (Changing Gears), Safer Vehicles, LAOM and maintenance for bike education bikes and bike trailers.

Changing Gears has been the longest-running and much-anticipated offering at CCS for 10 years, with an impressive Learner Permit pass rate of close to 100%. Learner Permits are a rite of passage for young people and help provide a pathway towards greater independence.

Achieving their Ls could be much more of a challenge for some of our students, or even beyond reach, without the tailored support of the Changing Gears team of Linda Jane and Nikki Thompson. Students gain the knowledge and confidence to sit for their Ls on the final day of Changing Gears and succeed. Equally important, they develop personal and more tangible skills that can be applied to many other aspects of their lives, now and in the future.

Before 2016 Changing Gears was delivered through Mission Australia. Changing Gears (formerly Janeway Pty Ltd) has been delivering the program at CCS since 2016 with 180 students participating, including 40 in 2023.24; 164 have achieved their Learner’s test, a 91% pass rate!

The amazing success rate is testimony to the expertise of the Changing Gears team and their ability to meet individual needs.

The Changing Gears team also delivers Safer Vehicles, while Greg Ryan presents Looking After Our Mates.

A special and most welcome visitor at the recent Changing Gears/Safer Drivers and Passengers innovation at Monbulk campus was Atticus, Learning Assistant Hanna’s golden retriever.

“We had some young people who definitely felt quite overwhelmed at times throughout the week, and while the pure strength and determination they possess was working hard to overcome this, holding the hand of a golden retriever certainly helped, said Hanna, adding that Atticus has also provided comfort and a welcoming face to students during the transition to the Monbulk campus.

“Our young people can often find things such as joining a new campus and taking in a lot of information quite daunting. Again, Atticus has had an extremely positive presence.

Facilitator Nikki commented: “The classroom environment with a furry friend present was really warm and conducive to learning about safe driving.”

Another Learning Assistant, Natasha “said:  ”One thing that really stood out was the effort made to cater to the needs of all students. I was particularly impressed by how ASD kids were able to learn in comfort from sensory spaces like beanbags. This approach really aided their comfort and engagement throughout the program.”

While some students were a bit anxious at the start of the week’s program, they certainly found their stride and achieved their Learner Permits on the final day, with great support and guidance from the Changing Gears team and CCS staff.

One student, Logan, scored 100% on his test. VicRoads Mitchum presented him with a free L-plate, while Nikki gave him a bag of sweets and gave everyone else L-plates.

VicRoads Mitchum Branch Manager Melissa congratulated Llogan on his wonderful result and the entire group’s excellent behaviour.