News

Aboriginal driver project introduced in Deniliquin

By Jamie Lowe

A collaboration between Intereach and Transport for NSW is providing a valuable Aboriginal community transport service in Deniliquin and Griffith.

Drivers have been employed under the 12-month program, transporting participants to various destinations and activities, including vital medical appointments.

The program was initiated with Intereach by TNSW under its Aboriginal Driver Project, which encompasses goals in the Intereach Reconciliation Action Plan.

Intereach CEO Keryn Fox explained they ‘‘gladly accepted the project’’ when it was offered by TNSW. 

It was originally for one full-time position over 12 months, however they decided it would be best split over two locations with two permanent part-time positions at 15 hours a week each — one in Deniliquin and one in Griffith.

‘‘Our community transport team met community groups in both sites to discuss the best ways to utilise our drivers under the program, and schedules were developed,’’ Ms Fox said.

In Deniliquin, Jaimarlee Atkinson has been employed and has transported clients to medical appointments in Melbourne and various regional centres across Victoria and NSW, as well as trips to and from Moonacullah Mission for shopping and family visits.

In Griffith, Robert Monaghan is the driver, transporting to Wagga and Albury for medical appointments after a schedule was compiled in conjunction with the local Aboriginal Medical Centre, plus local shopping and personal trips.

Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the number of community transport trips being booked in both Griffith ad Deniliquin, however the foundations have been laid for what is expected to be a successful project in the future.

Both drivers are highly regarded, with one client advising Intereach that Jaimarlee was ‘‘very polite and helpful’’ and that she ‘‘felt comfortable, as he drove in a sensible manner, to the conditions’’ when they were driving back from Albury through a storm.

Jaimarlee said the Aboriginal Driver Project had provided the opportunity to work consistently in a welcoming, friendly and supportive environment.

‘‘I enjoy travelling to different locations with different people and supporting them to attend their appointments,” he said.

Robert said he enjoys travelling around the Griffith area, as well as further afield to places such as Wagga and Albury.

‘‘I have met some lovely people and have benefited from the employment and the support provided by Intereach,’’ he said.

‘‘This is an important service for the Aboriginal community and I hope it can continue. I have been telling people about my job and how they can use the transport service.

‘‘I have been getting excellent feedback, which is appreciated.’’

While the original funding is for 12 months Robert and others involved, especially those taking advantage of the transport, would like to see it extended.

To speak to the community transport team, you can call Intereach on 1300 488 226.