Published On: 3 January 2024Categories: Stories

Michelle Kelly is finding healing and purpose in teaching young women to drive after the death of her only child four years ago.

Jack, 20, died at Mt.Helen, Ballarat, when he was hit by a car while walking home from a party late at night.

Michelle said she turned to the Devonport Chaplaincy Easy P’s driver mentor program two-and-a-half years ago because “It hurt too much to be at home with my thoughts”. 

” I needed purpose in life,” she said.

“Seeing as I taught my son to drive, I didn’t think it would be too hard to help others and take my mind off my own problems. I felt, perhaps, I could input young people’s lives by giving them something they needed.

“It’s like I could hear Jack’s voice and words in my head.

“It’s the most amazing thing I have ever done, and I have received back twice as much as I have given.”

Brooke Rouse, who recently gained her licence on the third attempt, is one of two young women Michelle has taught..

“Brooke’s such an incredible, gorgeous girl. She has such a zest for life,” Michelle said.

“It has been a privilege to see her blossom and achieve.”

Michelle said she loved her role and encouraged her young drivers. 

“Everyone needs someone to believe in them and cheer them on,” she said.

“I want to show them that they matter, that they have worth and value.

“I cried when Brooke got her licence.’’

Cried with relief and delight

 Brooke said she cried with relief and delight after taking seven years and three attempts to get her driver’s licence.

Brooke, 24, who has a learning disability, said getting her licence was one of her greatest achievements.

She credits her success with being teamed alongside Michelle.

“I drove with Michelle for a couple of months and it made all the difference,” Brooke said.

“She had lots of patience and was able to explain things in a way I could understand.

“It was one of the hardest things I have ever done to get my licence.

“It was a real battle.”

Brooke had many teachers throughout her seven-year journey to the finish line, from her dad, friends and neighbours, to driving schools, and finally Michelle.

Practically, Brooke can drive to work at Costa Berries in East Devonport, go shopping, visit friends, and take in the state’s stunning scenery.

“It has given me so much independence,” she said.

“I no longer have to rely on family or support workers to go places.”


By Paul O’Rourke

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