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Shepparton residents call for online learner’s permit test

By Spencer Fowler Steen

Two Shepparton residents have started a petition calling on the Victorian Government to move the learner's permit test online amid worsening delays due to COVID-19.

David and Kristen Doherty's 16-year-old daughter Gabrielle wants to get her learner's permit, but cannot book until early next year due to a "huge backlog" of in-person tests at VicRoads.

Mr Doherty said clocking 120 hours in just 12 months while completing Year 12 before joining the workforce would be tough for Gabrielle.

“It's an archaic way of testing — I think it was the same process when I got my Ls and I’m 41,” he said.

“Every other organisation has adapted to COVID-19 by going online — this is going to put people at a disadvantage.

“In the country it’s really difficult to get to work without a car.”

At the time of publishing, the petition had almost 13,000 supporters in less than 48 hours.

Due to the latest coronavirus restrictions, all light vehicle testing and computer-based licence testing have again been temporarily suspended.

It follows the previous suspension in late March which caused significant delays in driver's licence tests.

In response to whether online testing would become available, a Victorian Government spokesperson said in-person tests were the best way to verify people's identities.

“In-person tests are the best way to ensure integrity and verify the identity of the person taking the test,” the spokesperson said.

“We know this suspension will impact many Victorians, especially those whose licence test may have already been postponed due to the stage three restrictions in late March — but this is what needs to be done to protect the health and wellbeing of our staff and customers and slow the spread of coronavirus.”

The Victorian Government currently has a hardship testing process supporting those who need a licence for essential work.

Anyone who wishes to apply to take a computer-based or light vehicle test due to special circumstances can apply on the VicRoads website.