Since 2015, Immigration New Zealand (INZ) has been at the forefront of empowering refugees through a unique initiative - the Refugee Drivers Licence Programme. This program has been instrumental in assisting refugees who have completed their learner licenses to gain a restricted driver’s license, thereby enabling them to secure employment and support their families and communities.
As part of Budget 2022, the Government announced additional funding to support 64,000 more people to obtain driver’s licenses. This funding is over and above what Immigration New Zealand receives to support refugee driver training. This move is aimed at increasing funding for driver's license support and removing barriers for people who have trouble obtaining driver's licenses.
With this additional funding, the way driver training services are funded for refugees is changing. Funding for the current services will be ending on 30 June 2023. The Ministry of Social Development (MSD) is currently procuring driver training services across the country, and support for refugee driving services is in the scope of those services.
Once these new driver training services are established, a thorough stocktake and analysis of driver training services across all refugee resettlement regions will be conducted. The aim is to identify any gaps or opportunities to enhance the MSD contracted services. The current level of funding will be retained, and additional services will be procured, with a focus on ensuring that refugees across all resettlement locations have equitable access to driver training.
This cross-government approach is expected to provide refugees with better access to driver training, improve employment opportunities and community participation, and instill the confidence and skills to drive safely. The changes to the Refugee Drivers Licence Programme are a testament to Immigration New Zealand's commitment to empowering refugees and fostering their integration into society.