Open Road: Driver Training for Former Refugees

Open Road Driver Training Programme

Allen (left) got his licence in February 2018 with help from his volunteer Ross(right).

The Open Road programme aims to help refugee background people to get their restricted licence. Being able to learn to drive is important to many former refugees for access to work, as well as to support their greater participation in their wider communities.  Having your licence 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.

In February 2018 we celebrated one year of the programme running in Wellington (check out our celebration here!) and the programme moved from Wellington City to Porirua.

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. The programme is currently running in Porirua, applications from other regions will be considered at a later date.

Keen to help as a volunteer driving mentor?

The programme is currently running in Porirua - so please particularly get in touch if you are able to help there. 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. The Open Road programme is also running in Palmerston North, Nelson, Dunedin, Hamilton and Auckland - if you want to volunteer in one of those regions, you can find information here.

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 and the history of the programme

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. 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.

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