Open Road: Driver Training for Former Refugees

Turning the Curve success 3

Maya (left) got her licence in July 2017 with help from her volunteer Cathy (right).

As part of developing the New Zealand Refugee Resettlement Strategy consultation with refugee background communities was held in May 2013.  Former refugees were asked about the most helpful activities for newly arrived refugees at Mangere Refugee Centre and about the best ways to help them transition into their new communities.   
From there, the Refugee Driver Training Programme was launched in Hamilton, Palmerston North, Wellington & Nelson.  ChangeMakers Refugee Forum run the Wellington programme.

Being able to learn to drive and progress to the restricted licence stage is important to many former refugees for access to work, as well as to support their greater participation in their wider communities.  Being able to drive is important for dealing with poor public transport, and supports longer terms goals of employment and independence.

Learning to drive can be difficult without a car or a person to help teach driving skills.  A driving licence is seen as a huge step in settling into new communities and functioning independently.

How the programme works

Over 12-16 weeks, mentors provide 2-3 hours’ worth of lessons per week in a dual control car (provided) in addition to a number of lessons from a qualified driving instructor. 

The learner will be assessed on a monthly basis and when considered ready to sit the test will be given a mock test prior to sitting the real thing. 

Want to be considered for the programme?

 Click here to download the learner application form


Complete the form and email to or drop off at our ChangeMakers offices - Level 1, 203-209 Willis Street, Wellington.

Remember that you must already hold your learner licence. You must have a good level of English and some driving experience.

Keen to help as a volunteer driving mentor?

We would love to hear from you!  You will need to have held a full clean driver licence for two+ years and be available to help a former refugee practice driving twice a week for one hour. We will provide a dual control car to practice in (you don’t need to use your own!),  give you training and driving instructor support.

Please complete the Driving Mentor application form and Police Vetting form and return them to 

 Click here for more information and a driving mentor application form

 Click here for a police vetting form

Need to know more? Contact 

Our sponsors

The programme is possible due to the generosity of Wellington volunteers who commit their time to help our former refugee learners practice their driving. It's their support, patience and encouragement that helps our learner's get their full licence.

We also express our thanks to the support for the programme from Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment and Immigration New Zealand.

We want you - call 04 801 5812 for information about mentoring a refugee background learner driver