A new program launched in Murray Bridge on Thursday aims to help young people overcome one of the biggest barriers to getting a job: a lack of transport.
The L2P program will give 65 unemployed people access to a vehicle and a mentor to help them gain their P-plates, and the independence and job prospects that come with them.
Peter Sawley, the driving force behind the program, said he had been planning it since 2015.
Now - with support from Regional Development Australia, the state and federal governments, car dealers Duttons and a host of others - he hoped it would finally be able to address a critical need in the Murraylands.
Regional Development Australia's Shaun Harris said access to transport was a major barrier for both jobseekers and employers.
"We're a region of opportunity, with increasing employment," he said.
"We want everybody to have access to the opportunities this region brings."
State MP Sam Duluk said young people were more likely to stay in Murray Bridge if they could get work.
"It's hard to get a job and integrate into the community (after leaving school)," he said.
"If we can help young people get jobs ... we'll be helping the sustainability of this part of South Australia.
The program is open to learner drivers between the ages of 16 and 25 who:
- lack access to a car
- lack access to qualified driver who is able to teach them
- cannot pay for enough hours of instruction to fill their logbooks and earn their P1 licence
Participants must also go through an interview, a road safety forum and take four lessons with an accredited instructor beforehand, and will be asked for a $12 donation per hour of mentoring.
Anyone interested in registering for the L2P program should get a referral from a school, council, community organisation or friend or family member.
The program is currently building its roster of volunteer mentor drivers: people aged between 21 and 60 who have held a full licence for at least two years and are willing to go through a basic induction process.
The program will meet the cost of all training and checks.
L2P is also looking for sponsors who can help meet the cost of the program, which will focus on Murray Bridge over the next 12 months before, Mr Sawley hoped, expanding to surrounding districts.
It is one of a dozen programs being rolled out in the Murraylands as part of a $1 million federal Regional Employment Trial.
Ten regions around Australia were chosen to participate in the trial on the basis of high unemployment figures and, in the Murraylands' case, the advocacy of MP Tony Pasin.
"The Murraylands and Riverland ... is a region with significant prospects to unlock unemployment opportunities," he said.
"Unlocking this potential means we need a ready and skilled workforce.
"L2P is a key part of delivering this."
- More information: www.l2p.org.au.