$600k boost for new mental health and wellbeing program

healthy heads

After more than two years in the making, the first single national industry-wide approach to tackling mental health and wellbeing was officially launched today.

The Healthy Heads in Trucks & Sheds Foundation is an initiative between road transport, warehousing and logistics operators to support drivers and logistics workers with issues relating to mental health and physical wellbeing.

Woolworths Group, Coles, Linfox, Toll, Qube and Ron Finemore Transport have all combined as corporate partners of the Foundation with support from the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) and the Federal Government.

“We need our truckies and transport operators to be their best selves and to have a healthy head is so important,” said Transport Minister Michael McCormack via video link during the online launch.

“That’s why I’m really proud to announce that under the Heavy Vehicle Safety Initiative an additional $600,000 toward the Healthy Heads in Trucks and Sheds, and when I say additional that’s on top of the money that we have invested in making sure road safety programs are what they should be across the nation.”

When asked how the government can ease pressure and improve the mental well-being for drivers during the coronavirus pandemic, he cited the National Cabinet’s border protocols aimed at improving the flow of interstate freight.

“We’re working with states to make sure there is that fluidity and consistency across the borders. We don’t want our truckies held up. We don’t want our truckies having inconsistent approaches through the various state jurisdictions.

“We want to make sure that it’s as easy and fluent for them as possible as they transport goods around the country. They have been real heroes.”

Foundation patron Lindsay Fox also made an appearance, imploring the industry to get onboard with Healthy Heads to normalise the conversations around mental health and help break down stigmas.

“Under those circumstances you can finally try and get to what the issue is,” he said.

“When someone’s got an issue you’ve got to be there to listen and respond, and quite often say, ‘well I had that problem too and this is how I got round it’.

“One of Bill Kelty’s favourite sayings in the trade union [long-time secretary of the ACTU] was the words, ‘united we stand, divided we beg’. This is a time we all stand together and help one another.”

Healthy Heads chairman Paul Graham said he’s hoping the umbrella body will soon roll out an industry-friendly app and later be in a position to train more people in providing on-location support, wherever drivers see the Healthy Heads logo.

“We’re off and running. It’s been two years in the making and great to see foundation is now real,” said Mr Graham, the chief supply chain officer with Woolworths,” he said.

“We want to get more people involved, go to the website and show their interest and register, and at the same time get out there and start working with both our union partners and tertiary institutions to get better data, information and research, and also to make sure we provide this across the whole industry, be it the single truck driver out there to the largest organisations.”

Launch guest Margot Lydon, CEO of SuperFriend, said her research indicates that Healthy Heads couldn’t have come along at a better time.

She said her Indicators of a Thriving Workplace National Survey released today, the largest of its kind about workplace mental health, placed the transport, warehouse and postal industry at the bottom of the 19 sectors polled.

“What’s really concerning to me is that only 37% of the transport industry is actually taking action,” she said.

“We’ve still got a long way to go in Australia but this industry in particular has still got a long way to go. Any action that the industry and individual workplaces can be taking will have economic and social benefits.

“I really encourage this initiative. I think it’s fantastic, but we’ve really got to get in and do some work, and do it very quickly.”

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  • If this story has raised any mental health issues for you, call Lifeline (24 hours service) 13 11 14, Suicide Call Back: 1300 659 467, or Beyond Blue: 1300 22 4636 (24 hours/7 days).

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