CareSouth’s Driver Mentoring Program helps put SYSS participant on the road to independence 

Congratulations to Shoalhaven Youth Support Service (SYSS) participant, Brennan who recently got his driver’s licence!

Brennan, who lives in SYSS transitional housing after being referred to the homelessness service almost a year ago, was able to get his P-plates with the help of CareSouth’s Driver Mentoring Program.

The innovative program has been offered at SYSS for several years, after CareSouth staff identified that paying for driving lessons is a major barrier to independence for homeless young people and those in residential or foster care.

When Brennan came to SYSS in November, he had completed 15 hours of the required 120 driving hours. The 18-year-old was desperate to get his licence, knowing it was his key to independence and future job opportunities, but had put his dream on hold while he focused on finding stable housing and completing the HSC.

“My licence is my lifeline,” said Brennan. “When I got to CareSouth, I only had 15 hours all up, five of those hours were with a driving instructor and that cost me $350. I’ve done the calculations and if I got my 120 hours with an instructor it would have cost me almost $10,000.


When Brennan heard about CareSouth’s Driver Mentoring Program, he made the most of the opportunity.


Young people in the program:

  • Must have a valid learner’s permit
  • Get access to CareSouth’s pool cars
  • Receive a free professional driving lesson
  • Receive ongoing lessons with trained volunteer mentors from HMAS Albatross and the community
  • Complete a questionnaire about what they are expecting from the program before their first lesson, this is reviewed after every 20 hours of driving
  • Consent to all driving lessons being recorded on a GoPro
  • Consent to being breathalysed before each lesson.


Driver mentors:

  • Complete a Safe Learner Driver Program session with a qualified instructor
  • Commit to driving at least one hour a week with the young person
  • Participate in the keys2drive program – a driving lesson with their nominated client where they gain feedback from the instructor about the young person they are supporting.


SYSS Team Leader, Tony Briggs said the program is important for young people who would otherwise be unable to get their logbook hours. Tony, along with HMAS Albatross and community volunteers, helped Brennan achieve his goal.

“Without family support, these young people have no opportunity to achieve the 120 hours driving experience needed for their licence,” said Tony.

“Brennan’s extremely motivated and he has a great attitude. He was on the phone every week, ringing up to see who could take him for a drive and between the four volunteers and myself, we were able to do the hours he needed. The Driver Mentoring Program makes such a positive difference to these kids’ lives.”

Nigel Marsden was one of the volunteers who helped Brennan get his driving hours after hearing about the program through his local football club.

“There is no greater thrill than seeing a young person master the art of a new skill,” said Nigel. “I feel incredibly privileged to have helped support this young man fulfill his ambition for independence.

“Brennan is such a nice kid, who’s had a tough time. But we all knew what he could achieve once he got his licence: freedom, independence and the endless opportunities that brings. We all wanted to help in any way we could.”

The smile on Brennan’s face says it all.

“I didn’t think I’d ever be able to get my licence,” said Brennan. “But with the help of the volunteers I was able to drive a few times a week to get my hours up. I can’t thank them enough. It’s opened up a lot of possibilities for me, including getting a full-time job.

“My next goal is to get a car.”

To learn more about CareSouth’s Shoalhaven Youth Service and the support it provides to youth that are homeless or at risk of homelessness, visit