Uniting’s 120 Countdown free learner driver service seeks volunteer mentors

Driving mentor Tom Fairhall and learner driver Ulysses, the first student to enrol and pass with the program. Photo: supplied.


120 Countdown is a free program provided by Uniting that connects learner drivers with volunteer mentors to assist in completing the 120 hours of driving practice needed before they can go for their P‑plates.

Program Coordinator Harlan Cooper said, “Over the last three years we have helped 57 students on the way to getting their P plates, and we currently have 8 active students, we have the physical resources to have up to five times that many, but we need to find more mentors to be able to do that.”

Volunteer mentors are given practical training, including Driver Safety and attending an Accidental Counsellor workshop, and the vehicles used for lessons are all Uniting Fleet vehicles, with insurances and car maintenance kept up to date.

Tom Fairhall, a retired baker, found out about the 120 Countdown Program while it was still in its start-up phase in Nambucca Valley and since then has assisted six young students to pass their test and has made some firm friends along the way.

Tom says that the L-Platers aren’t the only ones benefiting from the arrangement having found a huge amount of personal satisfaction from volunteering and he has even been accepted as “adopted grandfather” to one of his participants’ new baby.

“There is so much value in helping others,” he said.

“Everyone’s a winner.”

To volunteer as a mentor and make a positive impact in someone else’s life you’ll need a full unrestricted licence and a couple of hours a week to commit to regular lessons with a learner driver.

The program is currently available to learner drivers from Urunga, Bowraville, Macksville, Nambucca Valley, and Valla.

For more information or to volunteer, contact Harlan Cooper, 120 Countdown Coordinator on 0466 013067 or email hacooper@uniting.org.au.


By David TUNE


One of the first girls in the program, Eden with her ‘P’ plate after passing her test. Photo: supplied.

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