Open Letter to Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern from the Driving Change Network

26 September 2019

The Vodafone New Zealand Foundation today announced it has joined with the Driving Change Network to send an open letter to New Zealand Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, about the need for access to education, mentors and resources for rangatahi to obtain driver licenses.

This stemmed from the Vodafone NZ Foundation noticing a trend in their funding applications, with more and more localised driver licensing programmes and community driving schools seeking funding. Communities around the country were identifying the same need for their communities and rangatahi.

Vodafone NZ Foundation manager Linn Araboglos explains, “Instead of funding programmes here and there, we thought we’d take a step back and look at the system. Earlier this month, we were part of a team that brought together a range of stakeholders for the ‘Driving Change Hui’, including interested parties from business, iwi, community, local and central government, and NGOs.

“The objective was to get a range of motivated parties in one room to share ideas that could be developed to see more people gain the benefits of a driver’s license. The Driving Change Network, and this letter were direct results of this hui, and now the network would like to meet with the Prime Minister to discuss their ideas,” Araboglos said.

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Open Letter to Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern

Released 26 September 2019

Kei te rangatira, tēnā koe Prime Minister,

New Zealand Driver Licencing System

Studies show that 70,000 – 90,000 young people face major barriers to progressing to a full licence.  A driver licence currently holds many functions beyond a licence to drive. It’s a prerequisite to many jobs, independence, a formal means of legal identification, and a positive step to participate in our economy.

Families and children will benefit when the drivers in their lives are able to drive legally, safely and confidently. Communities, especially rural and remote communities, will benefit when more of their people are able to access education opportunities, contribute to the care of their whanau, participate in employment and generally take an active part in the life of the community. All of us will benefit when fewer of our young people are caught up in the criminal justice system and more of our young people are able to drive with confidence, access all the opportunities that come with driving, and contribute to our country through their paid and unpaid work, including family care.

Tangata whenua Māori, those in low socio-economic circumstances, those in isolated rural communities, and those currently in the care of the state, face disproportionate barriers to accessing a driver’s licence and the benefits that come with it. Today, those who the graduated licensing system fails choose to drive regardless, risk social and economic isolation, face large fines and often a journey into the criminal justice system. These failures prompted us to assemble a diverse and passionate group of New Zealanders spanning business, iwi, community, local government, central government, philanthropic and non-government organisations. Together we formed the Driving Change Network.

Our mission is to promote a driver licensing system where licences are recognised for the social and public good they provide. We want New Zealand to be a country where everyone is able to access the benefits of a driver’s licence.

While there are a large number of community programmes addressing these challenges, they struggle to meet demand, are not universal nor coordinated across New Zealand, are often restricted to serving a particular demographic, and are underfunded.

The Driving Change Network believe that with a more coordinated, inclusive and accessible driver licensing system, we can take another step towards a thriving, just and prosperous Aotearoa.  At a recent hui, we identified the common challenges, and worked on some practical solutions to close the current gaps.

Given its significance to all New Zealanders, the Driving Change Network would like to meet with you to discuss how we can work together to ensure every New Zealander has the same opportunity to access the benefits of a driver’s licence. Given over 7 different Ministries are funding programmes independently, and 11 Ministries are involved in this system, we believe a cross-agency approach is required.

Ngā mihi nui,

The Driving Change Network

Responses to or enquiries regarding this letter can be addressed to Noa Woolloff (noa.woolloff@mtfj.co.nz).

Signatories to this letter:

Vodafone New Zealand Foundation; Blue Light; COMET Auckland; Connecting for Youth Employment; Gareth Parry, Partner, PwC Consulting; Got Drive Community Trust; HMS Trust and their projects Passport 2 Drive and Open Road; J R McKenzie Trust; JustSpeak; Keran Tsering, The Salvation Army Driver Programmes Manager; Lynda Murray, parent; Mayors Taskforce for Jobs; Manakau Urban Māori Authority; Partners Porirua; Philanthropy New Zealand; Taranaki Futures; The Southern Initiative; Todd Foundation

Signed as Individuals:  Lynda Murray (Parent), Gareth Parry (Partner, PwC), Keran Tsering (Driver Programmes Manager, Salvation Army)

Open Letter to Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern from the Driving Change Network