The road beyond licensing: the impact of a driver licensing support program on employment outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians
BMC Public Health
Background: With increasingly tough graduated driver licensing laws in all Australian States and Territories, driver licensing support programs are recognised as being important to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to obtain a driver licence. Such programs appear to improve licensing attainment rates, but few studies have examined the broader impact that these programs can have. This research aims to 1) examine the impact of a New South Wales (NSW) based driver licensing support program (Driving Change) on client employment outcomes; 2) assess the influence of geographical area of program delivery on driver licence attainment. Methods: Driving Change was delivered from February 2013 to August 2016 in 4 urban and 7 regional Aboriginal communities of NSW. Clients were followed-up at 6 months or more following contact with the program as part of routine program operations. Descriptive statistics and regression models were used to analyse data. Results: From 933 clients contacted 254 agreed to provide feedback, a response rate of 27%. Those that responded were mostly female (57%), aged 24 years and under (72%), unemployed (85%) with secondary education or less (71%) and from a regional area (74%). Adjusted logistic regression indicated that clients who achieved an independent licence were more likely (OR: 2.5, 95% CI: 1.22–5.24, p = 0.011) of reporting a new job or change in job than those who did not attain a licence. Clients from regional areas were more likely (OR: 1.72, 95% CI: 1.27–2.33, p < 0.001) to gain an independent licence than those from urban areas. There was no difference in employment outcomes (OR: 1.2, 95% CI: 0.53–2.52, p = 0.719) for clients from urban compared to regional areas. Conclusion: The Driving Change program appears to be effective in improving employment outcomes for those who gained a licence. Clients from regional areas were more likely to gain a licence compared to those in urban settings, and were predominantly young and unemployed, often a hard to reach cohort. Future licensing programs being delivered in regional areas need integrated pathways into employment opportunities to provide holistic services that address the social and economic challenges faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.
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