Stories - November 4, 2022
Funding extension for Aboriginal Driver Project
The success of the Intereach Aboriginal Driver Project has led to a funding extension through to December 2023.
The project is delivered by Intereach in Deniliquin and Griffith, with funding from Transport for NSW (TfNSW). It started in January 2020 and was initially a one-year project, but proved so successful it was extended for a further two years.
The project’s driver in Deniliquin is Jaimarlee Atkinson-Sampson, and in Griffith the driver is Robert Monaghan, with each working 15 hours a week on a permanent part-time basis.
Jaimarlee is highly regarded by participants, who he takes to medical appointments in Melbourne and various regional centres across Victoria and NSW, as well as trips for social outings and family visits.
On one trip to Melbourne with two elderly participants for medical appointments, one of the appointments went longer than expected, resulting in a long day for all involved. But Jaimarlee’s patience shone through.
“Jai was very thoughtful … he was worried about me and the other participant,” one of the passengers said, adding “we stopped several times on the way home and he went out of his way to assist us”. Other comments about Jaimarlee include, “it rained all the way home and I felt safe with his driving … nothing was a problem”, and “I could not praise Jai more; he is a wonderful young man”.
From January 2020 to September 2022, Jaimarlee has completed more than 1,000 trips and travelled 110,768kms. He is grateful that the Community Transport project has provided him with the opportunity to work consistently in what he called a “welcoming, friendly and supportive environment”.
“I enjoy travelling to different locations with different people and supporting them to attend their appointments,” Jaimarlee said.
“I was pleased when the funding was extended and look forward to continue helping people. I’d also like to thank Intereach for all the support they have provided,” he added.
In Griffith, Robert transports patients around Griffith, and to Wagga and Albury for medical appointments after a schedule was compiled in conjunction with the local Aboriginal Medical Centre.
He completed just under 2,000 trips from January 2020 to September 2022, travelling about 50,000 kms.
Robert appreciates the employment opportunity and support he has received from Intereach, and values the regular positive feedback from participants.
“I have met some lovely people. This is an important service for the Aboriginal community … I have been telling people about my job and how they can use the transport service,” he said.
Rob also tells his passengers about other services provided by Intereach and how it can help them.
“It was great to have this extended, and I hope they keep the extension going. It’s good for everyone. And thanks to Intereach for all their support,” he added.
Both Jaimarlee and Robert are hoping for a further funding extension beyond 2023. If this does not occur, they are expected to join the Intereach Community Transport team.
Intereach has a total of 17 offices across southern NSW, north/central Victoria and the Mallee, with a total staff of more than 460. It supports children and families, older people, people living with disability, mental health and carers. If you, or someone you know, needs support you can contact the team at Intereach on the toll free number 1300 488 226, or go to www.intereach.com.au.