Sparking change in the local community

A GROUP of innovative young adults have put their heads together to create a solution for isolation and immobility in the local community.

Developed by members of Backswing Glenorchy and run over 18-weeks, Spark Plug is a campaign to help low income earners receive their driving license.

Research has shown that there is a direct relationship between social isolation and depression, low levels of self-worth and poor physical health.

Backswing participant Sherri Prendergast said the small barriers were often the hardest.

“These services are already out there, but for some people it can cause a lot of anxiety,” she said.

“We want to help with that by teaching people how to save money if they don’t want to get a loan or are unable to, and by providing them with a list of information needed for a license so when they’re ready, they don’t go in with the wrong things.”

The pilot program will select two community members to assist with moving from their L1 to L2 car licence, and a further two to obtain their learner motorbike licence.

Spark Plug will directly fund the associated lessons and assessments for the pilot participants, as well as assisting with mentors for required driving hours.

The project provides simple step-by-step guidance to assist eligible members from the Glenorchy community to access existing services like NILS and Driver Mentor programs, as well as personalised support on the licensing pathway.

“It’s a self-sustainable project and there will almost always be a need for it,” Backswing coach Matt Lichter said.

“The relevant services are already out there and we just want to connect the community with what’s right for them.”

The Spark Plug team is creating a blueprint for an ongoing community program to help people obtain independence.

The team is seeking expressions of interest from organisations to take on their idea and seek ongoing funding to make Spark Plug available as a permanent service beyond the pilot project.

For more information, visit www.sparkplug.org.au

Backswing is an Empowering Youth Initiative provided by Colony 47 to southern Tasmania, funded by the Australian Government.

The initiative is designed to provide out-of-work youth with real workplace skills and experience in project management.

Caption: Backswing Glenorchy participants, from left, Katelyn Briggs, Sherri Prendergast, Alana Quinn, Sophie Mason, India Gee and Nikia Anderson.