ACT News

Learner driver program helps refugees and migrants obtain their licenses

For Iranian refugee Alizera Naroui, freedom was a welcome change when he and his family arrived in Australia, but to truly feel safe and competent the 18-year-old needs one more thing.

With English as his second language, Mr Naroui has worked hard to create a new life in Australia, but the practicality of being able to drive has been the biggest stumbling block for his family. 

Working hard: Alireza Naroui will take part in a new Road Ready service to help refugees get their driver's license.
Working hard: Alireza Naroui will take part in a new Road Ready service to help refugees get their driver's license. Photo: Rohan Thomson

"Because of the bad life in Iran we came to Australia, but Canberra is a big and busy city and if you're going to work or play soccer, you need a car," he said.

This week, Mr Naroui has a chance to overcome this road-block, as ACT's Migrant and Refugee Settlement Service launches its Road Ready program to help those new to Australia obtain their learners licence.

While the program hopes to promote safe driving and overcome language and economic barriers, Mr Naroui is most concerned about helping his family.

"We have been here almost a year and mum is going to the shops and she has to carry the bags with her hands, so me driving would help her," Mr Naroui said.


Mr Naroui plans to take his learner test in two weeks but is scared that he might fail because of his reading and writing skills.

"When we're speaking it [English], it can be very easy, but reading and writing is difficult for me," Mr Naroui said.

The cost of war in Sierra Leone also forced 21-year-old Katumu Daramy to immigrate to Australia in February, a decision that meant leaving her friendships behind.

"Getting a license will help me to interact with friends. If you get a car you can go anywhere," she said.

Currently completing an English course at The Canberra Institute of Technology, Ms Daramy wants to eventually study business administration, believing that a licence will get her there more easily.

Clients will participate from many countries, so interpreters will be available to help, with a focus on building familiar student-teacher relationships.

Also aiming to reduce road crashes, the Road Ready program targets people from 17-25 and is practically free. 

ACT Government director of community participation Nic Manikis said the program was a simple way of making a huge difference to people's lives.  

"Our city is a car city and this program will help people who have come here from adverse circumstances build a life in our city."