Skip to main content
  • A man in a grey cap and black hoodie sits behind a steering wheel.
Case study - Safe driver training
Driver training helps PALM scheme workers adapt to Australian road conditions

Driving in a new country can be a challenge, but a safe driver training course aims to make the experience a bit smoother.

For Solomon Islands man Trevor, driving in Australia was a new experience. The road rules and conditions, driving culture, distances covered and types of vehicles used were all different.

But after a safe driving course, he feels more confident about driving in Australia and has picked up skills he can take back home to Malaita island.

Trevor was one of more than two dozen Pacific Australia Labour Mobility (PALM) scheme workers from Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu and Samoa who took part in a safe driving initiative in Toowoomba, Queensland in July.

“Back at home we don’t have things like speed limits but here there are traffic rules … I’ve learned a lot and it’s really improved my driving. When I get back home, I hope that I will do better,” Trevor said.

The participants used a driving simulator and were guided by qualified instructors on a track and on the highway in a dual-controlled vehicle. They had theory sessions covering topics such as fatigue and Australian driver etiquette.

There was also a session on drink driving, with participants wearing impairment goggles to learn the effects of alcohol on vision and senses and why they should not drive after consuming alcohol.

Instructor Ben Logan, from Safe Drive Training (SDT), has experience working with motorists across the Pacific and said the course covered different driving techniques they would face when coming to Australia.

A man in a red and black shirt sits at the wheel of a driving simulator.
Junior from Solomon Islands practices driving with the simulator.

He said the main difference that drivers from the Pacific islands noticed in Australia was the quality of the roads, meaning many were not used to driving on multilane highways at a 100 km/h speed limit.

“Many things are different coming from their countries and the main problem we have is the speed difference that our Pacific island friends are dealing with here in the remote locations that they’re working in,” he said.

“We’ve got a theory session, we have a driving simulator as well and also taking them out on the road for a familiarisation drive. [We’re teaching them] mainly the merging onto busy rural roads.

“Any learning that people can do and take home definitely helps in the local community and we’re more than happy for that.”

Kerry McCarthy, from approved employer Harvest Hands, said the driver training was a welcome boost for her employees who attended.

“As an employer and on the farm, we rely on them traveling these distances safely and arriving to work on time. They’re responsible for the other passengers in the car so the additional training is wonderful,” she said.

“The experience they have here, driving in Australia is totally different to what they have in the Pacific.”

The driver training was funded by health insurer, nib and may be rolled out to other locations across Australia.

Funding available for employers

PALM scheme employers are also able to access funding for the development of skills to prepare workers for life and work in Australia.

Specific job skill training, such as forklift licensing, as well as personal and life skills programs such as safe driver training can be funded through the skills development program

For more information, please visit the PALM scheme website or contact the PLF skills development team by email (training@pacificlabourfacility.com.au) or phone (+61 7 3557 7766).