Tribe teaching learners to drive

Published 6:00am 19 January 2024

Tribe teaching learners to drive
Words by Kylie Knight

The Tribe Drive initiative, helping learner drivers clock up the 100 hours needed before they can go for their driver’s licence, is already changing lives.

The program, run by Tribe Social Belonging, started in mid-November after receiving funding from Bendigo Bank Community Bank Margate to buy a car.

Tribe Social Belonging Founder Ryan Elson says there are already six learner drivers involved in Tribe Drive, which pairs them with a volunteer who helps them complete driving hours.

“What we’re trying to do is encourage people in the community to put aside an hour a week, jump in our vehicle which is an automatic Toyota Echo – the easiest thing in the world to drive - with a kid, give them an hour … that can go towards the 100 hours they need to get their license,” Ryan explains.

“A licence is so important in life. There are so many kids who can’t get a job because they haven’t got a licence.

“If you haven’t got any parents who can help you, or you haven’t got a car you can use, you’re further down the food chain straight away.”

He says attaining a licence also gives young people a sense of freedom and reduces social isolation.

“That gives a person the chance to live their lives properly,” he says.

“Our philosophy is opportunity through connection. We are giving people an opportunity to get their hours up and get their licence but if someone gets in a car with a young person, figures out that this young person is a worthwhile human being and became a referee for them or put them in the right direction for a job or employed them themselves … that would be a pretty good outcome as well.”

Tribe teaching learners to drive

Legacy program

Tribe Drive is an initiative which ticks all the boxes for ongoing support from Bendigo Bank Community Bank Margate.

Chair of Marketing and Community Engagement Committee Joel Hudson says the bank has supported the initiative through its community grants scheme.

“It was an outstanding application. The Tribe Drive initiative is exactly what Bendigo Bank is looking for,” he says.

“We want it to be a legacy not just a one-off project.”

The bank has provided almost $10,000 to cover the purchase price of the car as well as ongoing insurance, registration and running costs.

“It’s in our mandate as Bendigo Bank Community Bank that a portion of our profit goes back into the community,” Joel says.

“We have given $950,000 since we started and next financial year we should be over the $1 million mark. That’s massive to have put that amount of money back into the community.”

He says Tribe Drive is a much-needed initiative for people who need to get a driver's license to secure employment and overcome isolation.

“To get people to the next stage in their lives, 100 hours of driving is so important,” Joel says.

“Imagine kids whose parents don’t have a car, or those not living with their parents … there’s no way they can get the 100 hours without paying $80 an hour.”

Joel says there are also mentoring opportunities with the drivers and a chance to build meaningful connections.

Anyone keen to take part in the program as a learner driver or instructor, can phone Ryan 0422 232 437 or email


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