Huon Valley News

Gearing Up program – how four years of supervised driving was worth the wait

“I’ve come out the other side – I have, and it’s nice.” – Tameika, Huon Valley resident and recent graduate of Gearing Up

The day of a driving test is an anxiety-inducing occasion for most people. For Tameika, it mattered more than most.

“When I went my nerves got the better of me,” she said.

“So we canned the drive and just rescheduled. I was moving house as well and just had too much going on.”

Tameika regathered, penciled in a new date and totally forgot about it.

“They rang me and said – are you coming today?”

“I said – um, what for?”

“They said – “for your Ps test.”

“I said – Oh, whoops! I’ll be down in five minutes!”

This time, Tameika passed the test with flying colours.

“Even though I was late… oops.”

“I was in shock. I thought they were joking,” she said.

The longest road

Tameika signed up to the Gearing Up program in 2019.

Gearing Up is a state-funded program to help learners with financial barriers or unable to find a supervising driver gain their on-road hours and achieve their P-plates.

It also assists new Australian residents and has provided a valuable service in the Huon Valley and Kingborough areas for many disadvantaged drivers.

For Tameika, life didn’t go to plan.

It started when the house she was renting “literally fell apart”.

“We ended up homeless for four weeks. It wasn’t pretty,” she said.

“We ended up taking a two-bedroom place just so the kids had stability.”

The housing crisis forced Tameika, her partner and three young children to relocate to Nicholls Rivulet, where there was no public transport.

A relative travelled from Ranelagh twice a day every weekday to take her children to school and bring them home.

The family also spent six months in a shelter.

Add to that her daughter has been in and out of hospital with a serious health condition.

“It has been a battle, but I’ve got there,” said Tameika.

“It wasn’t pleasant but it is what it is.”

New horizons

Now, things are finally looking up.

The family has a new stable roof over their heads and Tameika has not only gained her licence, but a new job.

Four years with the Gearing Up program has been worth the wait.

“I’ve wanted to be able to use a car, to open more opportunities for me which it has,” she said.

“To make life easier for my partner, because there was only one driver of the two of us, and he’s a traffic controller, so his hours vary.”

“Now I can go to and from work, take the kids to their sports, their scouts.”

“They just think I’m their chauffer… that I can take them in to town. Uh… no. Not today.”

“But they’re good kids.”

Eye on the prize

Tameika’s driver mentor Jen said she had no doubt Tameika would eventually get over the line.

“She was always a pretty solid driver. She wasn’t unsafe,” Jen said.

“She just needed to get those hours up. Especially with the kids and trying to organise it around everything else. Even getting transport in here sometimes was really tricky.”

Now, Tameika is only looking forward.

“Basically yeah, it’s new beginnings,” Tameika said.

“I’m fortunate for the program itself. If it weren’t for the program I probably wouldn’t be where I am.”

“I’ve come out the other side. I have, and it’s nice.”

“I’m happy. I’m excited. I’ve got a job now I can drive. It’s time for new adventures.”

*If you’d like some help finding a supervising driver or car, or with financial barriers, contact Gearing Up Project Officer Mandi ☎  0427 317 815. Find out how you can access your on-road hours for free!