Through his National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) plan, 50-year-old, John Bartlett was able to engage Ballarat disability provider, The Support People, to help him get his Learner’s Permit. Now, after passing, he’s looking forward to becoming more independent.
John, who has a mild intellectual disability, said his success came after missing two prior attempts at his Learner’s by just one point.
“Thankfully my support worker, Lorelle, worked with me at a steady pace. I didn’t feel rushed; we took our time, and she was really patient, so I passed,” he said proudly.
“I was really pleased John took his Learner’s test one more time,” Lorelle said.
“I was worried, given he had failed twice, he wouldn’t have the courage to take the test again, but I was able to build his confidence and I could see his motivation was still there.”
Lorelle said John was really focused and dedicated about achieving his Learner’s.
“There was never a time when we worked together he wasn’t putting in an effort,” she said.
“When you’re going online to do the Learner’s Permit test you have two tests to choose from. They are multiple choice so we would always do each one and mash them up a bit.
“Then I’d put John in the hot seat and make him feel like he did have his licence so when he answered questions it was as if he was having those driving lessons, without having them, and we would always talk everything through.”
Lorelle said when she picked John up on the day of his test he was undeterred.
“As we were backing out of his driveway I said ‘It’s all good to be nervous. They are good nerves’. Then John just looked at me as if to say ‘What are you talking about’ and he replied ‘I’m not nervous’. He was calmer than me,” she said with a laugh.
“When we got to VicRoads, staff were lovely. They understood John’s circumstances and how it wasn’t as easy for him to take the test as it was for others.
“When John came out of the room after his test, the staff member had great pleasure in telling him he had passed. Then about six other staff came out and congratulated him too.
“He just had this huge smile on his face. I went up and gave him a tap on the shoulder and said ‘John. I hope you’re proud of yourself’. He replied ‘I am’. I said ‘I am too.’
“I must admit I try not to get emotional in my role, but let’s face it you are invested. I did have a little tear in my eye and I said to staff ‘I never cry. I’m not a crier.’ and they all laughed.
“Then they wanted to take John’s photo, but of course you can’t smile in a licence photo, but we just couldn’t wipe the smile off his face! He had a grin from ear to ear.
“John had to take off his hat for the photo too, so I asked him if he didn’t mind if I fixed his hair up a little for him, and by this stage we were all laughing, but we got a good photo!”
Lorelle said since working with John she’s noticed a positive shift in his demeanour.
“When I first met John about a year ago he was incredibly shy, and I wouldn’t say he was a very sociable person, but that’s taken a turn,” she said proudly.
“We’ve started doing Saturday Community Access shifts too. Sometimes they’re during the day or in the evening, depending on what John wants to do.
“We’ve discovered we have a few common interests – anything paranormal and horror flicks, so one night we decided to go on a ghost tour, at Ararat’s Aradale Lunatic Asylum.
“The tour was so much fun, and John actually captured a ghost in one of his photos so we were all excited,” Lorelle added.
At this point in time, John is super keen to get behind the wheel and clock up the required 120 driving hours he needs to sit his Probationary Licence. “I’m really looking forward to it,” he said. “I’ll be able to drive to work; drive to do other activities, and I’d like to drive to Melbourne for the day,” he said.