Changing Gears at Berwick

Cire Community School’s Berwick campus is helping bolster and promote road safety, with several students recently attaining their Learner Driver permits after successfully completing a Changing Gears program.

It was the first time the program had been delivered at our Berwick campus. Despite some last-minute challenges due to Covid, the four participants embraced the opportunity and greatly appreciated the tailored assistance and support.

Thanks to Department of Transport/VicRoads funding, the Changing Gears pre-learner driver course has been delivered at our Yarra Junction and Mount Evelyn campuses for the past eight years, with two more scheduled for coming weeks. Almost 100 per cent of participants have gained their L permits on the program’s final day or shortly after that. Cire has also been funded for Looking After Our Mates (LAOM) and has been part of a state-wide pilot for a safer vehicles innovation.

One of the proud new learners drives from Berwick, Jack, said the program really helped him understand the road rules and noted the practise tests were extremely useful. Changing Gears instructor Linda Lane worked through any incorrect quiz responses to ensure a thorough understanding.

 “Linda was incredibly supportive and understood where everyone was coming from. Her super energy and optimism made everyone’s nerves drop and positive thoughts flow, especially when we went to VicRoads to do our test,” Jack said.

 “After I passed the learners test, I was still very nervous because I had to drive on the road with more experienced drivers and try to remember everything I had learned so I would drive safely. The overall Changing Gears experience was extremely good for me. I would recommend it to anyone trying to get their learners because it helps you understand all the risks of driving.”    

In just a few days, fellow student Kayla gained “heaps of knowledge and learned so much” from Changing Gears.

“I am very grateful to Linda, who did an amazing job teaching us the basic road rules. I wasn’t confident at all, but she helped me through it and assured me I’d do ok,” Kayla said.

“I was very nervous on the official test day, but Linda made me feel heaps better about it. It was a big relief when I heard I passed, and I owe it all to the Changing Gears program. All students should take part in the program because it provides a wide range of important information that is easy to remember.”

Berwick campus teacher Digna Libera described Changing Gears as a tremendous confidence booster for the students who were very proud to have achieved their Ls, as were their parents. 

She said most Cire students would otherwise find it very challenging and intimidating to attempt the test without the program.

“Hats off to the trainer, Linda, who is very pleasant, kind and understanding. She has not only helped the students get their Ls but also prepared them to be safe drivers on the roads. The parents of these students are equally excited about what their children had achieved.”

Together with other Community Road Safety Program innovations, Changing Gears is a vital part of what Cire Community School offers. Changing Gears helps students achieve one of the” rites of passage” which may not otherwise be within easy reach and contribute to keeping our roads safer.

“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 Cire Community School’s 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. As a result, our students have been incredibly successful in gaining their Learner permits over the years.” 

Students engage easily with Changing Gears instructor Linda. She effectively communicates the road rules using a range of digital and physical mediums such as videos, quizzes, PowerPoint presentations and physical maps to demonstrate traffic manoeuvres. The students particularly appreciate the practice quizzes, which help familiarise them with the learner’s test and further reinforce the road rules. 

Linda provides lots of support to the students throughout the sessions and regularly checks in on their wellbeing and understanding. Students were reminded that the Victorian road rules always look for the safest approach. The quizzes are based on common sense. Linda spends time with each student, helping develop that “common sense”.

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

Pictured: Proud learner drivers from Berwick, from left, Kayla, Jack, Lorcan and Joanne with Changing Gears trainer Linda Jane.