Refugee Driving Training Programme

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?

Contact to request an enrolment form. Remember that you must already hold your learner licence. You should hopefully have a good level of English and some driving experience.

Keen to help as a volunteer driving mentor?

You need just 2 x 1 hour slots per week to help a former refugee practice their driving. You need to have held a full clean driver licence for 2 years. You'll also get to participate in the learner's lessons with the driving instructor to help you learn how best to encourage your learner. Contact to learn more about becoming a mentor.

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.

Volunteer mentor drivers