CCS in top gear for road safety

In recent weeks, road safety has been a focus for many students at Cire Community School (CCS).

Thanks to funding through the 2021/2022 VicRoads Community Road Safety Program, Safer Vehicles and Looking After Our Mates (LAOM) innovations have been delivered at the Yarra Junction and Mt Evelyn campuses. More are scheduled in the coming weeks, as well as at Berwick, including the pre-Learner driver course, Changing Gears which was also delivered for Cire students in November.

VET Careers and Pathways Leader Karen Swankie, who has been the driving force behind the program at Cire for several years, commended the opportunities and level of student engagement.

“It is so important for students to have access to this type of information as they prepare to sit for their Learner permits and buy their first vehicle,” Karen said.

“We are all road users, whether as a driver or a passenger, so all have a responsibility for the safety of everyone on the roads.”

Karen commended the Department of Transport for its ongoing support for Cire students through its Community Road Safety Program funding.

“Programs like Changing Gears, and now Safer Vehicles and LAOM have become an important part of what we can offer students and support them in responsibly achieving significant milestones like gaining their driver’s licence and making the right choices in life,” Karen added.

Cire is a pilot school for the Safer Vehicles intervention, and Margaret Walpole from the Department of Transport visited

CCS in top gear for road safety

William Laing with Safer Vehicles facilitator at Mt Evelyn campus, Linda Jane, who has also been delivering Changing Gears at Cire for several years.

as an observer for the recent Mount Evelyn innovation. Mrs Walpole, the Community Road Safety Coordinator for the Metropolitan South East Region, also visited Yarra Junction for the LAOM presentation.

Students who participated in the day-long Safer Vehicles program learned about ‘how safe is your car’, things to look out for when buying a car and making safer choices. Students learned about the differences between the Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) and used car star ratings.

The value of the Safer Vehicles program was captured by the following student comments:

  • The program was great; this information will help me choose a safer car.
  • This program is suited to young people who are ready to get their first car.
  • I didn’t know about the websites for checking the safety of cars, I am going to show my family.

Students also found the LAOM presentation by facilitator Greg Ryan from the Department of Transport, also very informative:

  • I really enjoyed the information; it was insightful, learning about the laws.
  • Really good; it taught me a lot about drinking and how long alcohol can stay in your system.
  • This is the second time I have seen this presentation; the person presenting was good. The videos were good, better than being spoken at.

Main image – students Zahra Mackie and Kyha Edwards with Karen Swankie, Marg Walpole from the Department of Transport and LAOM facilitator, Greg Ryan.

Click here for further information on our youth education programs.

L-permits for Christmas

Christmas came early for some students at Cire Community School who recently attained their Learner Driver permits after successfully completing a Changing Gears program.

It was a particularly exciting way to end the year and given the much anticipated Changing Gears pre-learner driver education program had been rescheduled three times due to COVID restrictions.

Twelve students participated in the pre-Learner driver education program at the Mount Evelyn campus with seven ultimately gaining their Ls on the final day. All 12 students learned valuable lessons in safety, persistence and practice and had a great time engaging with the course.

The following comments help capture the value of the experience:

It was a bit confusing at times but then it made sense.

There are lots of the questions that just take time to work out the safest option. It’s like a puzzle.

Changing Gears has become an important part of what Cire Community School’s offers and helps students achieve one of the ”rites of passage” which may not otherwise be within easy reach, as well as contribute to keeping our roads safer.

It has been made possible by support and funding through the Department of Transport and VicRoads as a safer driver and passenger intervention. Students have achieved 100 per cent success rates for almost every program.

“Changing Gears gives students, and their families, the confidence to undertake their Learner’s permit test and then gain invaluable time driving under adult supervision,” explained Karen Swankie who has been instrumental in securing the necessary grant funding and overseeing the program.

“It provides a supported environment that breaks down the road rules into manageable learning opportunities and as a result, our students have been incredibly successful in gaining their Learner permits over the years.”

Changing Gears gives students, particularly those with low literacy levels and self-confidence, the opportunity to achieve success by learning the road rules in a supportive environment with their peers. Facilitators work with individual students on areas where they may require extra support and students are able to learn with their peers, which further embeds the learning. Being able to sit for the test with a group, rather than alone, helps to alleviate nervousness associated with testing.

Students in the most recent Changing Gears program loved their instructor Linda who was able to communicate the road rules in an effective manner using a range of digital and physical mediums such as videos, quizzes, PowerPoint presentations and physical maps to demonstrate traffic manoeuvres. The students particularly appreciated the practice quizzes as they gave them valuable insights into the learner’s test and further familiarised them with the rules of the road.

Linda provided lots of support to the students throughout the sessions and checked in on their wellbeing and understanding on a regular basis. Students were reminded that the Victorian road rules always looked for the safest approach and that the quizzes could be completed with common sense. Linda spent time with each student, helping develop that ‘common sense’.

On the day of the test, many of the students were excited to finally sit for their Ls. They were all very encouraging towards each other even though some were not able to pass on the day. Overall, we had a high success rate and those who did not pass have the option to try again in February.

For future students completing this course, be sure to have the correct documents and identification.

Cire has again been awarded funding for Changing Gears in 2021/2022. Our school is also set to be the benchmark in the region for a new safer vehicles intervention which is being rolled out for the first time, as well as a Looking After Our Mates online session.

Best wishes and safe driving to all those new Learners on the road!




Job Trainer – your pathway to a secure career

With many people considering future employment opportunities, Cire Training is well placed to deliver accessible and affordable pathways through Job Trainer, a Federal Government initiative designed to address changing workforce needs in our new COVID environment.

Cire Training offers a range of established courses locally that are Job Trainer subsidised and offer qualifications in sectors that have continued to grow in the past 18 months but struggle to recruit quality staff. Those who complete the courses successfully are well equipped for real job opportunities in areas including Community Services, Early Childhood, Education Support and Individual Support (Aged-Care and Disability Services).

Due to the pandemic, workers have experienced the effects of downturns in industries such as Tourism and Hospitality. At the end of 2020, Tourism Research Australia reported a 60 per cent decline in total tourism expenditure in Victoria compared to the previous year.[1] Job losses have been throughout Victoria. The City of Melbourne alone was projected to shed 15% of its workforce, 75,000 positions, while the rest of Victoria was predicted to lose 9% overall, 250,000 jobs[2].

Given such statistics, it is no surprise that job security is weighing heavily on some people’s minds.  The ‘Australia Talks National Survey 2021’ has found that 88 per cent of Australians think job security is a problem for the country.  More alarmingly, 27 per cent of people fear that they will experience unemployment within the next year.

Fortunately, there are a number of sectors that have maintained a significant level of growth over the past 18 months. Community Services, Early Childhood, Education Support and Individual Support (Aged-Care and Disability Services) continue to experience challenges in recruiting quality staff.

When the Federal Government recognised the parallel issues of people looking for stable long-term employment, plus sectors experiencing skill shortages, the Job Trainer program was born.  This initiative, supported by the state government, will fund training for approximately 320,000 by the end of 2021.  It was developed in response to COVID-19, to create opportunities for up-skilling and re-skilling and create a higher-skilled workforce, particularly in areas of skill shortages.

When considering gaining new skills, the cost of training can be a significant roadblock.  Job Trainer is an opportunity to engage in further study, at a heavily subsidised rate.  Due to the minimum eligibility requirements, many potential students are able to access the benefits of Job Trainer funding. If individuals are under the age of 25, or currently unemployed, they can choose from a number of courses, each targeted to address skill shortages in specific areas.

Cire Training offers a range of Job Trainer opportunities for locals looking to upskill to gain employment.



Students graduate with Learner permits

Congratulations to some of our Cire Community School students who recently gained their Learner Driver permits.

It was a 100% success rate with the 12 students who completed the three-day Changing Gears driver education program attaining their Ls at the Mooroolbark Licence Testing Centre. Cire Community School was able to deliver the program at an affordable cost to students thanks to a grant of $1000 from the Shire of Yarra Ranges.

The following feedback from students highlights the value of the program which is run by instructor Linda Jane from Changing Gears:

“I got my Learners permit and it’s all because of the Changing Gears program.”

“Thanks, Linda, for being such a great teacher and helping us pass our test.”

“Linda was so patient with everyone. Even though there was a lot of distractions, we all learnt about the Road Law and how to be safe, and we passed.”

Linda Jane said the following statistics were a testimony to how important driver education is for young people:

More than 350 young drivers aged 18-25 have lost their lives in Victoria in the past 10 years – representing one in four, or a quarter of the road fatalities in the State over the decade. In 2016, 19% of drivers who lost their lives were aged between 18 and 25 years with this age group only representing about 10% of Victorian licence holders.

Of the 29 young drivers who lost their lives on our roads in 2016:

  • 76% were male
  • 55% were killed in regional Victoria (94% were killed on 100+ km roads)
  • 69% were killed in single-vehicle crashes
  • 63% were involved in crashes that occurred in high alcohol times
  • 55 people die and 1,245 are seriously injured each year in crashes with drivers under 25.

Linda Jane said inexperience, lifestyle factors, risk-taking and using older, less safe cars made young people for more vulnerable to crashes and injury.

Subject to funding to ensure the program is affordable for students, Cire Community School tries to offer Changing Gears on an annual basis.

Linda Jane delivers the program in a fun and interactive way of using learning activities such as:

  • videos
  • information that is explained so it makes sense and is easy to understand
  • easy to use workbook
  • lots of practice tests
  • easy to remember methods
  • student questions answered.

If you would like to know more about Cire Community School and the education programs they deliver click here.