Hidden in the hills behind Portland is a site that has been undergoing work over the last 12 months, thanks to a grant from State MP and Minister for Local Government Paul Toole. Les Taylor, and a group of motoring enthusiasts from the Lithgow Car Racing Club, have spent over 15,000 hours since 2008 turning an old unused quarry into a safe flat surface where they can run driving training programs for young children. “Driver training should be part of the curriculum for school kids” said Les. The group will be operating the CAMS Ignition program as soon as they get final approval for the site, which teaches children from as young as 12 basic motoring skills, basic car maintenance and responsible driving techniques. CAMS Ignition is a driver education program with a difference. It is primarily designed to assist young people in developing skills and insight into their involvement in motor vehicles and road use. Such skills are crucial in creating a driver mindset that seeks to prevent emergencies and crashes. The CAMS Ignition program is not intended to replace learner lessons or the minimum numbers of hours required of pre-licence supervised practice. Instead CAMS Ignition complements these existing learner driver and licensing activities, in line with research which suggests a multifaceted approach to road safety. The program’s developers emphasize the importance of driver education from a young age. The program is designed to give children a very real feel for the power and potential force of a vehicle – teaching them about consequences, decision making and the rules associated with road use – in a setting that is absolutely controlled (the drivers rarely travel at more than 10 or 15 kilometres per hour in a secure setting). “This will be a great facility for the local area once it’s operational” said Mr Toole, MP. “I am actually quite amazed at how much they have achieved with the funding we gave them and the time they have had,” he added. The funding was through the Community Building Partnerships program, which has seen funds distributed around the entire region to help many projects just like this one move forward. The only thing that now stands between the group and the opening of the facility is some additional funding to install septic tanks and the final approval of their building, which has been donated by Energy Australia. “We could be up and running within 12 months if we can get the last bit of funding we need,” said Les. Hopefully with continued support from grants and the community, we can see this facility up and running as soon as possible to help our young people learn in a safe environment.