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McGovern Foundation makes long-term commitment to Goldfields following 12 months of success

Headshot of Madeleine Clark
Madeleine ClarkKalgoorlie Miner
Kalgoorlie-Boulder co-ordinator Henry Papertalk and Edward Yappo.
Camera IconKalgoorlie-Boulder co-ordinator Henry Papertalk and Edward Yappo. Credit: Madeleine Clark/Kalgoorlie Miner

A charity which has helped 50 Goldfields residents obtain their driver’s licences since launching in the region a year ago celebrated moving into a permanent base in Kalgoorlie-Boulder.

The McGovern Foundation opened a regional office in October at 108A Burt St, Boulder, with the support of the City of Kalgoorlie-Boulder.

Opening the office, which has three local staff members, signalled the charity’s long-term commitment to the region after a strong start 12 months ago.

The Foundation’s Wanderer Program partners driver mentors with disadvantaged people to access safe vehicles, get their learner’s permit, and complete the required supervised hours.

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Kalgoorlie-Boulder co-ordinator Henry Papertalk, Edward Yappo and Andrew McGovern at the new office in Boulder.
Camera IconKalgoorlie-Boulder co-ordinator Henry Papertalk, Edward Yappo and Andrew McGovern at the new office in Boulder. Credit: Madeleine Clark/Kalgoorlie Miner

For many people, particularly in Indigenous communities, not having access to a vehicle or the means to pay for driving lessons to complete the 50 supervised hours can be a major barrier to securing their P plate.

Founder Andrew McGovern said he had been consistently blown away by the strong demand for the program.

“We always knew the Goldfields was an area of need, but seeing the strong uptake since we established a presence in the region has really driven home the long-term role the foundation can play in the region,” he said.

During the past two years the program, which is supported by founding partner Mineral Resources, has helped more than 240 learners secure their P plates as a key step on the road to success.

In the Goldfields, one of these participants was Edward Yappo, who at 55 recently passed his driving assessment in Kalgoorlie-Boulder with the help of the program.

Mr Yappo is a full-time carer for his 16-year-old son, Jeffrey, who is blind and partially deaf.

Having his P plates will allow him to drive his son to medical appointments himself for the first time.

Asked about how it felt to secure his licence, Mr Yappo said: “It feels like a lot of weight off my shoulders. My boys will be stoked — and my daughters.”

Edward Yappo obtained his driver's licence through the Wanderer Program.
Camera IconEdward Yappo obtained his driver's licence through the Wanderer Program. Credit: Madeleine Clark/Kalgoorlie Miner

MinRes operates two lithium mines in the Goldfields — Mt Marion and the recently acquired Bald Hill.

MinRes chief executive, lithium Joshua Thurlow said economic empowerment was at the heart of the company’s social investment framework, and the Wanderer Program was a textbook example of empowerment in action.

“By helping young people secure something as simple as a driver’s license, the McGovern Foundation is unlocking their potential and literally transforming their lives,” he said.

“We are thrilled to support them as they build their presence in the Goldfields.”

The foundation recently expanded to other Goldfields towns, with its team members visiting Kambalda, Coolgardie and other places.

However, additional funding for more staff and extra vehicles is crucial to service the growing list of towns without detracting from the Kalgoorlie-Boulder program.

Mr McGovern said the foundation was now calling on generous supporters to help grow their footprint in Kambalda and Coolgardie.

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