John Bartlett is thrilled to finally have his wheels.
The 50-year-old, who has a mild intellectual disability, got his Learner's Permit earlier this month on his third attempt much to the delight of his support worker Lorelle Roslyn and VicRoads staff.
Mr Bartlett and Ms Roslyn had spent months patiently working through the learner's permit theory and practice tests before he finally achieved his goal.
On his two prior attempts at the test he missed by just one point.
"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," said Ms Roslyn who works for Ballarat disability provider The Support People.
His joy at passing the test did make one component of the permit a little more difficult - the non-smiling licence photo was hard to take as Mr Bartlett could not stop smiling.
"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," Ms Roslyn said.
"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.
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"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.'"
Mr Bartlett is now keen to get behind the wheel and complete the 120 driving hours he needs before being eligible to sit his probationary licence test, which for him represents freedom and independence.
"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.
Mr Bartlett had expressed his desire to get his learner's permit and become more independent through his National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) plan, which funds support to cover not only needs but other goals.
"We want to let people know they can turn to the NDIS for support to make their dreams happen," an NDIS spokesperson said.
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