McGovern Foundation was established in 2020, with a bold vision and goal; to help Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islanders and other disadvantaged youth in Western Australia.

indigenous disadvantage on the roads

Aboriginal and torres strait islanders are:

  • 24 times more likely to be imprisoned for Traffic and Vehicle Regulatory offences (TVROs), than non-Indigenous Australians 1
  • 3 times more likely to lose their license due to fine default 1
  • 3 times more likely to die in traffic accidents 2
  • 48% of prisoners serving time for TVRO’s in WA are Indigenous Australians 3
  • 100% of prisoners serving time for TVRO’s in NT are Indigenous Australians 3
  • Many prisoners in our jails, particularly those in regional and remote parts of WA & NT, are serving minor traffic or vehicle regulatory offences 1
  • Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander employment is 49% 4
  • Over representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait islanders in prisons costs $7.9bn annually

contributing factors

Individual and family barriers

  • Access to driving support – Fewer than half of eligible Indigenous Australians hold a driver’s licence, compared to 70% of the non-Indigenous community 6
  • Access to a roadworthy vehicle – Only 51% of Aboriginal families have access to a car, compared to more than 85% of non-Aboriginal families 6
  • Language barriers – English rarely first language in many remote communities 8
  • Lack of education –  In areas such as literacy, numeracy, computer competency, safe road practices & relevant enforcement systems 8

Systemic barriers

  • Proof of Identity – many Indigenous Australians lack the Proof of Identity documentation required to get a licence 1
  • Finances –  Many Indigenous youth lack the financial capabilities to accommodate fuel and driving support 7
  • Access and geographical locations – Indigenous Australians in remote areas lack the resources to contact support 1
  • Justice system preventing access to a licence – Fine defaults, lack of diversionary options and unauthorised driving charges; leading to increased risk of incarceration and a lack of culturally safe, contextually appropriate services 8

The conversion rate from learner’s permit to provisional licence in this group is just 15%. 1

community impact

Not obtaining a driver’s license has enormous personal, cultural and vocational impacts on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.

Low rates of driver licensing have been linked to:

  • Lack of cultural & community participation
  • Diminished capacity for family support
  • Access to education
  • Reduced employment outcomes
  • Low Self-esteem / Mental Health issues
  • Increased risk of transport‐related injury or death
  • Risky and dangerous behaviours
  • Reduced access to health services 

Let’s build something together

1 Australian Law Reform Commission | Pathways To Justice–Inquiry Into The Incarceration Rate Of Aboriginal And Torres Strait Islander Peoples (ALRC Report 133), 2018. / 12. Fines And Driver Licences / Driving When Unlicensed. https://www.alrc.gov.au/publication/pathways-to-justice-inquiry-into-the-incarceration-rate-of-aboriginal-and-torres-strait-islander-peoples-alrc-report-133/12-fines-and-driver-licences/driving-when-unlicensed-2/

2 Thomson N, Krom I, Ride K (2009) Summary of road safety among Indigenous peoples. Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet. https://healthinfonet.ecu.edu.au/healthinfonet/getContent.php?linkid=590635&title=Summary+of+road+safety+among+Indigenous+peoples

3 Prisoners in Australia 2016 | Australian Bureau of Statistics, Cat No 4517.0 table 15. https://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Lookup/by%20Subject/4517.0~2016~Main%20Features~Prisoner%20characteristics,%20Australia~4

4 Closing the Gap Report | Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2020. https://ctgreport.niaa.gov.au/sites/default/files/pdf/closing-the-gap-report-2020.pdf

5 ”How many times does one person have to be tested?” | Sydney Morning Herald 28/7/2019. https://www.smh.com.au/national/how-many-times-does-one-person-have-to-be-tested-20190724-p52adv.html

6 Aboriginal people face barriers in obtaining and holding a driver licence | The Law Society of NSW, 2017. https://www.lawsociety.com.au/advocacy-and-resources/news-and-media/aboriginal-peoples-drivers-licenses

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2019. Indigenous income and finance. Canberra: AIHW. https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/australias-welfare/indigenous-income-and-finance

8 Australian Law Reform Commission Inquiry into Incarceration Rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples. Austroads, 2017. https://www.alrc.gov.au/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/13._austroads.pdf