Pushing a pram through wintry Warrnambool weather was Wei-Lin Mai's first memory when she arrived in a city vastly different from the public transport metropolis she called home.
Taiwanese-born Mai never considered getting behind the wheel of a car until she found herself in south-west Victoria in 2012.
A young mother without a licence, she said day-to-day life was "really difficult".
"I didn't know how to drive, I'm originally from Taiwan where public transportation is highly-developed," Ms Mai said.
"We had busses and subways coming every two-to-three minutes, but when I moved to Warrnambool things changed.
"I didn't have friends to take me around or teach me, all my family members were busy working and I didn't have a job so it was very difficult for me to access lessons.
"I went everywhere on foot or by bus or sometimes by taxi, depending on my financial capacity or how urgent I needed to get somewhere.
"I was a mum as well so I was pushing my pram everywhere with my daughter on a bus, it was difficult for me to take my child to school or to childcare. This is what a lot of multicultural women here are experiencing."
Ms Mai - a Victorian Multicultural Commission Regional Advisory Council member for the Barwon South West Region - said she welcomed the state government's recent expansion of driving lessons.
Up to 600 recently-arrived migrants and people from culturally-diverse backgrounds aged over 21 will have access to 1000 free driving lessons as part of the $1.5 million Community Road Safety Grants Program.
Ms Mai said she knew at least 10 eligible women.
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"It's an express need in the region from multicultural residents," she said.
"So far I've been told by at least 10 women from multicultural backgrounds in Warrnambool they don't know how to drive.
"I can empathise with them because I experienced it first-hand - it's a gap we need to address.
"For these women, having their drivers licence could change the quality of their life."
She said it was particularly important for women experiencing domestic violence.
"Women from multicultural backgrounds have a high rate of experiencing domestic violence and when they don't know how to drive, they can't escape, they have to stay in the household to endure the violence whether physical, emotional or verbal," Ms Mai said.
"This is happening to some of the women I know.
"Driving is also an essential skill to get a job in Warrnambool and if they don't have a licence they can't become financially independent and leave the household."
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