For many young people getting a driver's licence is simply a rite of passage but for refugees their 'P plates' are the keys to their freedom.
Hanan Khorsheed was only a teenager when she fled Iraq, she never thought she would get behind the wheel and learn to drive.
The 26-year-old proudly holds up the P plates; "it means freedom".
She is one of the refugees and migrants that obtained their driver's licence through access programs by the Illawarra Multicultural Service and Gymea Community Aid and Information Service.
Families gathered in Wollongong to celebrate the new drivers at a graduation ceremony on Thursday, August 10.
The programs provide subsidised driving lessons, education on Australian road rules and road safety and assistance with fees.
Ms Khorsheed arrived in Malaysia six years ago before applying to come to Australia in 2022 as a refugee.
"I was 17 years old, I had to flee... I was expecting my brother to come and go to another country, but he was killed and I was stuck in Malaysia [and] I didn't know what to do," Ms Khorsheed.
"Many of my friends were killed because we refuse to change our religion."
To Ms Khorsheed driving "feels like flying", it allows her to apply for more jobs, travel around the area easier and feel safer.
"I was scared to drive and honestly after my brothers' death I never thought I'm going to study in my life again or drive or have a good life. I [now have a] really good life," she said.
Jenny Grey, settlement and multicultural services manager at Gymea Community Aid said a driver's licence is "a gateway into feeling part of the community".
"It's a pathway to employment. It's a pathway to education and training," Ms Grey said.
"It's a pathway to being able to participate in the community. Take the kids to sport, take the kids to school, get the shopping."
One of the significant barriers to obtaining a licence for refugees and migrants is the cost of driving lessons.
"The fees for the course of every hour. It's expensive and it's hard ... when you first come here, and you don't have a job. So you can't pay this much," a graduate of the driving program, Mahnaz Darabi said.
Mahnaz Darabi and her husband Esmaeil Taslimi both had a driver's licence in their home country of Iran.
Mrs Darabi struggled to travel to rental inspections in the Illawarra with her 18-month-old daughter.
"For just one inspection. It took me maybe two hours, three hours ... sometimes I had to take three buses."
Within months of arriving in Australia in 2023, they both obtained their driver's licence through the local program.
"You have the freedom to go anywhere you want, anywhere you like for finding a job for supporting your family," she said.
For many women in the program there wasn't an opportunity for them to get their licence in their home country, Ms Grey said.
"You give a woman her licence and then it opens a gate to help the whole family to feel that sense of settlement that sense of connection."
The Driver Licensing Access Program (DLAP) is funded by the Transport for NSW. They are looking for volunteer drivers to support refugees and migrants in the Wollongong area obtain their licence.
For details contact Gymea Community Aid or Illawarra Multicultural Service.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.