Refusal to lower probationary driving age unfair on regions, says VFF

Friday 24 March 2017

YOUNG people in rural areas will likely stay burdened by a lack of transport options after the State Government’s decision this week to reject the recommendations of a parliamentary inquiry into lowering the probationary driving age in Victoria from 18 to 17.

The Victorian Farmers Federation blasted the decision for keeping an unfair burden on young people by snatching away potential job opportunities, echoing the report’s finding that “
licensing is a gateway to mobility for many young people in non-urban areas, and…mobility is essential for young people to access opportunities for their future.

The farmer group’s youth wing, the Young Agribusiness Professionals (YAPs) Network, last year lobbied for Victoria’s probationary driving age to be brought into line with other states.

“It’s a shame the State Government can’t see that reducing the probationary driving age to 17 would be one step towards ensuring young people in rural areas are able to engage in what their communities have to offer,” YAPs chairman Sam Trethewey said.

“It would reduce the impact of isolation and burden on families caused by distance and lack of public transport, and it would also address competitive disadvantage for rural businesses by bringing our driving laws into alignment with other states and territories.

“The probationary driving age is now 17 in every other state and territory in Australia, from Queensland across to Western Australia and from the Northern Territory down to Tasmania, which makes Victoria the odd one out.”

The inquiry heard powerful evidence from rural youths who felt they “missed out on employment and education opportunities or were limited in the types of employment they could obtain [because] many employers prefer to employ young people who can drive independently”.

Mr Trethewey said the Government couldn’t disregard out of hand the evidence presented to the inquiry, and that lowering the driving age would be a sound investment in securing opportunities in regional Victoria.

“The ability of our youth to participate in education, training, sport and leisure activities all relies on their capacity to access them,” he said.

“They don’t have access to public transport, so driving is really the only option, and if car transport can’t be made, that’s an opportunity our young people can’t have.

“This Government has spent a lot of effort building its credentials in rural Victoria, but if it wants to ensure there are ample opportunities in the regions, it needs to make sure the next generation of workers can access them.”

Media Contacts:

Sam Trethewey, YAPS Chairman: 0419 520 167

Ashley Mackinnon, VFF Public Affairs Officer: 0417 165 784