Driving Change Network: Unlocking $86.5 million for community driver education and training

An $86.5 million government funding boost for driver licencing programmes in the 2022 budget was a milestone moment for the Driving Change Network. The aim of the funding is to support 64,000 New Zealanders to gain their licences over four years.

“The press release announcing the extra funding was a huge moment for us,” says Driving Change National Coordinator Wendy Robertson.

“We’ve been calling for more government support for driver licencing since we began; this announcement shows that our message got through.”

The Todd Foundation has been co-funding the Driving Change Network since 2019, alongside the J R McKenzie Trust, Len Reynolds Trust and Te Rourou (formerly the Vodafone Aotearoa Foundation).

Wendy says the network is committed to ensuring New Zealand’s driver licensing system helps, rather than hinders the journey to work, education and training for all New Zealanders.

“We know we need a system that supports people in a holistic way, is culturally appropriate for our communities and accessible for people of all ages. Working collaboratively, and with government, to achieve that is what we’re all about.”

For young people, a driver’s licence is more than just a licence to get on the road. It’s also a licence to get a job and to participate fully in society. However, many have no legal driver to teach them, and no legal car to practice in. If they drive anyway, they risk being caught up in the criminal justice system.

A healthier driver licencing system would give more people access to the resources they need to gain their licenses. This would lead to safer roads, access to employment opportunities, and help break cycles of poverty and unemployment. It would also reduce road accidents and reduce the number of young people who get caught up in the justice system for driving-related offences.

During 2022 the network joined the Driver License Improvement Programme – the only non-governmental organisation involved with the programme which is looking at ways of reducing barriers in our driver licencing system.

Wendy says being part of the improvement programme is important to ensure that change keeps happening.

“For us, systems change doesn’t stop when you kick the door open with something like a budget announcement,” she says. “We’re there for the long-term to make sure the door stays open, and to ensure the money goes out and gets to where it needs to go.”

Other achievements during 2022 include increasing the number of testing locations across the country, training new community testing officers and trialling new community initiatives in Te Tai Tokerau and Te Tairāwhiti to make it easier to for people to get access to driver testing.

Wendy says the success of the Driving Change Network is due to the dedicated and collaborative efforts of members (who now number 600), co-funders and partners. The governance and membership model is open, diverse and represents multiple sectors and regions.

At the heart of the network’s success is a commitment to regular engagement with members and listening to community voices: they’re the experts when it comes to knowing what will work best in their communities.

The Todd Foundation is proud to support this critical work.