Introduction: The social determinants underlying Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health are well documented but driver licensing is often overlooked amongst the broader determinants of health such as education, employment and housing. Low licensing rates can have a substantial impact on communities, contributing to reduced access to employment, education, health services, social and cultural opportunities. This project aimed to develop, implement and evaluate a community based licensing program for young Aboriginal people in NSW.
Methods: A consultative committee of key stakeholders was convened to guide the development, implementation and evaluation of the program. Purposive sampling was used to identify key informants from this group of stakeholders to participate in semi-structured interviews; a logic model was developed to guide program development and implementation. Formative research was conducted to develop the licensing support program, which was then rolled out to 12 sites across NSW. Evaluation of the implemented program involved review of program records, including outcomes, a detailed process evaluation, and analysis of licensing and licensing offence outcomes.
Results: The resulting program included intensive case management of young drivers by a locally employed youth worker based in an acceptable and accessible community organisation who also recruited volunteers to help learners gain supervised driving practice. Stakeholders demonstrated high level of support for the program and reported that it filled an important gap. Clients of the program reported high acceptability and levels of comfort with the service, with stronger client outcomes gained where the client had accessed multiple aspects of the program. Final evaluation results are pending program completion in September 2016.
Discussion: This is a promising and innovative program with high community acceptability, achieving positive outcomes in licensing, debt management and access to employment. Towards the end of implementation of the pilot program, and following extensive engagement with government agencies, NSW Government funding was issued statewide to roll-out community based programs using similar models. While program evaluation is still ongoing, close engagement with policy stakeholders meant that interim results and learnings could be used to inform State Government program funding.