Veteran truckie Leanne Kelly has been appointed as chaplain for Women in Trucking Australia (WiTA) in a bid to further assist truckies who are struggling with their mental health.
She was appointed to the role following the organisation’s recent board meeting.
WiTA chair Nat Kascak says Kelly’s appointment is a landmark decision that supports WiTA’s current mental health and wellbeing resources, which are available to drivers through Ozhelp’s Health in Gear initiative.
“Drivers and staff can talk to Leanne in confidence about their concerns and problems and know that she’ll provide the support they need – regardless of religious affiliation, practice, or beliefs,” Kascak said.
Accredited and affiliated with Chaplaincy Australia and Transport for Christ, Kelly says her primary role as WiTA Chaplain will be to provide support when its needed to staff, truck drivers and their families.
“People have fears and concerns, worries and challenges, and sometimes they need someone to walk with them in those dark moments, to listen, to share the hurt and support them through those difficult times,” explained Kelly.
“People will often say things to a chaplain that they wouldn’t say to anyone else, and that has got to be held somewhere – to be respected and acknowledged.”
Kelly’s trucking career began in the early 1980s and she became Australia’s first female company fuel tanker driver.
Throughout her career, she’s transported a everything from LP gas and chemicals to woodchips.
She’s also studied extensively and is a palliative and high-care nurse, with a Certificate IV in Ministry and Certificate III in Aged Care and Community Services.
Kelly is also an accredited mental health first aider.
“I’m far from perfect but I do care about others. I care about the problems people face and want to help guide them through those tough times and rough patches,” she said.
“I’m very much aware of the dark places that domestic violence, depression, isolation and anxiety can take us. We all experience problems in our lives, but we don’t need to go it alone.”
Kelly says when the opportunity arises, she encourages drivers to look out and care for each other like they did in the old days on the road. She can be reached by contacting WiTA on 0429 333 082.
Alternatively, truck drivers and their families needing support can also call Health in Gear on 1800 464 327 (9am- 5pm, Monday-Friday AEST) or reach out to Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636 (24/7).