[Service Management – Caitlin Rofe, Indigenous Driver Licensing Unit]
Hi, my name is Caitlin Rofe. I'm a proud First Nations Wakka Wakka and Gkuthaarn Kutijar women currently residing on Gimuy-walubarra Yidi land (Cairns)
[How long have you been working with TMR?]
So I first started with TMR in 1st November 2010. So just a little over 10 years.
[What is the Indigenous Driver Licensing Program?]
So the Indigenous Driver Licensing Program is a mobile team that visits our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in the Cape York Peninsula area, Gulf of Carpentaria and Torres Strait Islander regions.
We're a team of 6 so we go out and provide anything to do with licensing. So learner licensing, driving tests for cars up to HC licensing. We also do identification cards and also promote road safety awareness as well.
[What role does the Indigenous Driver Licensing program have in remote communities?]
Indigenous driver licensing. We play a very important role in these remote area communities by allowing community members to access licensing products that they may not be able to receive in their areas.
Due to lack of services in remote areas, community members may not always feel comfortable with going to other services in their community.
Therefore, when IDLU come to town, I think everyone has a positive view and they know they can come down and talk to us about gaining a licence.
[How is the Indigenous Driver Licensing Program providing better outcomes for Remote Community Members?]
In mainstream, we know that we can just go into a customer service centre and this is what we need to do, and we can go back and understand 'Yes to book a driving test this is what I have to do.'
However, in communities, that's not always how it works. So for IDLU to be out in communities and delivering a licence service, that also leads into employment as well. It's addressing those barriers where community members need that licence for employment, for medical reasons.
There may be only one person in a family household that's eligible for a driver licence, and when we come up and we're able to deliver that service, I feel that it just motivates people to then want to gain employment. 'I have a licence now.'
This leads to so many other opportunities. They can give back to their community by being locally employed. Or they may even want to leave community. They feel that 'Yep, I can. I have a licence now, I can actually go down into mainstream and secure full-time employment elsewhere.'
[Why is it so important for a team like the Indigenous Driver Licensing Program to exist?]
Personally, as a young Indigenous female having to go down to the police station to get a licence as well, was quite daunting. So and I mean, back then I think I was 16, 17 and it was my first time in the police station and sort of going, 'Oh my goodness. What do I do here?’
So which, which... they were great. Anyway, I got my learners, but having the team that we have and going out to these communities, I feel as though people are a lot more comfortable and willing to come to see IDLU. Therefore our, this unit plays a very important role with TMR with closing, closing the gap as well.
[Has there been a highlight of the program for you personally?]
A key highlight is every trip we get out there and we have a learner presentation that could range between 10 to 20 people and to have, our youth coming and gain a licence is a highlight. They walk away and you know that you've changed someone's life with that.
Definitely with driver testing as well, so some customers may have been on their learners for forever and we come into town and we educate and promote road safety and then assess their eligibility and we can go for a driving test and them walking away going
'Oh my gosh, I now have an open car licence. I don't have to rely on family members. I can get around on my own.'
[What changes have you seen over your time working at TMR about how we work with First Nations communities?]
One of the changes I have witnessed is the increase in engagement and collaboration within First Nations communities.
This increase has stemmed from recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities holding the solutions to issues that directly affect them.
[Why is the community engagement so important?]
So, like all programmes being implemented in Community, in order to be most effective, we require the support and participation from all members, be it the local council organisations such as job networks or individual community members as well.
So I guess allowing community to have ownership or, you know, community control, basically so they are able to have an input on how they want to run the community, how they see where IDLU sits in this role.
So I think definitely our relationship building has increased, definitely.
[Where do you want to see TMR’s partnership with First Nations Communities and peoples going in the future?]
I'd like to see a TMR champion in community. So you know, whether that's, you know, a couple of days a week, or just having someone local from that community go out and engage with their people and be able to bring it back to IDLU and filter it down to us. I'd also like to see TMR working closely with our Department of Justice as well, and trying to capture those issues that happen in courts while also having that TMR champion say ‘well, I went to court today and this many people were disqualified licensing’ and bring it back to us and go OK, well there's a really big need in that community for IDLU to be there.
[First Nations Partnerships, Queensland Government. Music: Sandyrb Didgeridoo 01 by sandyrb]