Transport industry changing women’s lives

Midlife women and domestic violence survivors are finding new careers and self-confidence in the Western Australian transport industry, reports the state’s peak trucking body.

In a media release this week, the Western Roads Federation (WRF) highlighted that nearly a third of the 220 women trained to drive road trains over the last 20 years by the Pilbara Heavy Haulage Girls have come from domestic violence backgrounds.

“We have found that domestic violence survivors find empowerment in a safe space driving trucks, whilst gaining financial freedom in an incredibly supportive on-road truck driving community,” said Heather Jones, of Pilbara Heavy Haulage Girls.

Jones also recently appeared on the The Morning Show on Channel 7 to highlight the opportunities for women across the industry.

“We really need truck drivers, and there are some amazing job opportunities out there for women,” she told the nationwide audience.

Jones’s experience is also validated by both mature age women and domestic violence survivors graduating from the $6.1m Western Australian Government investment in a transport industry training program which is jointly managed by TAFE and industry.

The program has now graduated over 87 per cent of trainees into jobs in the industry, of which an increasing percentage are women.

Mature age women, who have been identified nationally as often struggling to find a new meaningful career, are also finding a new home in the WA transport industry.

For Trish, who became a road train driver in her 50s, the experience of the transport industry has been incredible.

“There’s nothing better than driving my truck, listening to my own tunes watching another beautiful sunrise across this amazing state,” she said.

Meanwhile, a recent meeting of the leading women in transport was facilitated last week by WRF to develop an urgent action plan to attract more women.

“As an industry we are recognising that we can both offer life changing opportunities for women whilst addressing our critical skills shortages,” said Louise Bilato, a WRF board director.

“There are so many career opportunities ideally suited to women in the transport industry, but we need to increase awareness, offer tailored training pathways that connect to our willing employers.

“We need the federal government to help build on the great training investment by the WA Government by offering support to women-specific programs like Pilbara Heavy Haulage Girls and tailored training pathways into the myriad of other great career opportunities offered by the transport industry.”

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