DEMAND for a free driving course in Armadale is so high that people travel as far as Busselton to take part, classes are sometimes packed out with up to 60 students and some miss out altogether.
Two senior Aboriginal police liaison officers run the course for learner drivers and people needing to regain their licence, and they also offer a nationally accredited defensive driving course.
The course is aimed at helping Aboriginal people to safely get on the road, but Senior APLO Jeremy Garlett said it was open to all.
“The results are amazing. It gets them in the mining jobs where they need a licence,” Officer Garlett said.
He leaves his wife and four children at their Morley home each day and travels to Armadale because he is passionate in his belief that the course really opens doors for Aboriginal people.
“This is a beautiful course, it’s from my heart,” he said.
“I am humbled by the happiness people show when they get their licence – it’s almost like a licence to work.”
The course is a crime prevention strategy and Officer Garlett said he was grateful for the support of Armadale Police officer-in-charge John Bouwman.
Harold “Woody” Humes works alongside Officer Garlett and is equally passionate about keeping Aboriginal people out of prison and in the workplace.
But Officer Garlett said he sometimes couldn’t keep up with the demand because there were not many specialised programs around.
He called for more APLOs to help meet demand and for businesses to support plans for a virtual truck driving training system to help people get their HR licences.
Officer Garlett said “brain-muscle memory” was an important aspect of teaching young people to drive.
“In the early days, Aboriginal people used to dance out what they would do in the hunt before they went hunting,” he said.
He said learning to drive using a simulation program built the co-ordination skills necessary to be safe on the roads.