As a trained lawyer working in the justice system, Shanna is no stranger to tackling challenges head on.

Read about her experiences as a Driving Change volunteer.

When Shanna’s job ceased to include frontline work with clients, she was looking for a way to volunteer with community members, as she enjoys connecting with people who she wouldn’t meet otherwise.

She began her involvement with the Driving Change program in 2014, when it was run out of the George Institute, as she was interested in supporting people in the process of exiting the criminal justice system.

In the six years that she’s been involved, Shanna has had about five students.

“I’ve had a range of students,” she says. “Two who were great drivers and had driven in regional NSW, but weren’t comfortable with city driving. Two who were fresh and eager to learn.

“One was really early, who I supported all the way to getting her Ps. We were practicing for at least 18 months.

– Shanna is one of Weave’s wonderful Driving Change volunteers

“That student actually got her licence during COVID-19. She was definitely quite stressed about it. As you can imagine, it was very exciting when she got her Ps!”

Through her professional and life experience, Shanna is uniquely placed to see the difference her volunteering makes. “I think the program is really really important,” she says.

“Personally, I think that access to a drivers licence is life-changing for a lot of people. The program is run really well, we get a lot of support. And the flexibility, with work and other commitments means that it’s achievable.”

“One of the concerns I had when I started volunteering was that I wouldn’t meet other volunteers – it’s just you and your learner driver. But Weave really makes an effort to have volunteer events, which is testament to the fact that Weave really appreciates volunteers and knows how to support them.”

For Shanna, success isn’t just people getting their license. It’s also the incremental improvements she observes in her students. “I had a drive yesterday with my kid” she says, “and we were celebrating driving together for five weeks. In the first two weeks she couldn’t even stay in the lane. Last night we went for a drive and she was so incredibly good. We were on bigger roads than she’s ever been on.

“That experience of seeing an observable difference from week to week – I imagine it’s like parents watching their children take their first steps.

“We were just like ‘that was amazing!’ at the end of the drive.

“It’s so concrete, the experience of seeing someone build their confidence and build that skill. It requires so little of us to spend that time, it’s really them doing the work. It’s just incredibly satisfying.

“From my experience it’s an incredible program in terms of the direct impact that you can have and the nature of the relationship that you build with your student. You spend a lot of time with this person in an occasionally stressful situation. I’ve also always felt really supported by Weave.”

“In the period that we’re driving together you do form a friendship. Obviously you volunteer to help others, but there’s a personal benefit because you also get something out of meeting someone you wouldn’t otherwise.”