Funding that aims to support more women to get back into the workforce forms part of the Victorian Budget 2020/2021 – including a $2.4 million Women in Transport program that’s set to assist 300 women to become heavy vehicle drivers.
This funding is part of a $17 million package to help women find new employment opportunities in sectors such as transport, construction and startup innovation.
Included in the Women in Transport program is training and employment opportunities for 300 women truck drivers; Australian qualifications and employment opportunities for 40 female refugee and asylum seeker engineers through the Engineering Pathways Industry Cadetship program; scholarships for 20 women undertaking diesel mechanic apprenticeships; and 15 vocational placements for PhD students and 20 undergraduate and postgraduate scholarships for women studying in transport-related fields.
Chair of Transport Women Australia Limited (TWAL), Jacquelene Brotherton welcomed the funding announcement, but added it was important that the funding was directed to the right places.
“I think this funding is going to be a win, there’s obviously always more to be done, but we can’t be greedy. It just needs to get to the right people and be directed to where it needs to go,” she said.
TWAL has been actively involved in getting more women into transport through various programs including its Women Driving Transport Careers (WDTC) program, a joint initiative between TWAL, Wodonga TAFE and Volvo Group Australia.
Designed as a pathway for women entering the transport industry, it comprises a four-week course that covers various parts of the job. “They learn about driving, safety, COR – it’s about everything to do with transport, not just steering the truck, so far about 40 women have been through the course.”
Unfortunately the program is in a bit of a hiatus at present, with funding drying up and then COVID hitting, though Brotherton is hoping that government funding can also be directed into programs such as this one.
“TWAL would love to be able to access funding to keep our WDTC going, because we’ve had so much interest in the program. That would be a major breakthrough for us because we have the program already in place, we know it works and if we have the funding for it, we could run many more courses,” she added.
“For each cohort, we had 250-450 women applying for eight places. There’s been a massive uptake for it and more transport companies are wanting to get involved. Companies have been able to offer flexibility for women to get into truck driving. Other courses will also be set up, but this sort of funding would be magnificent for us, to keep it going and keep it rolling.
“I think the $2.4 million Women in Transport program is a wonderful initiative if the money is made available in the right place – and if it brings more women into the industry, it would be fantastic. It just has to be accessible.”