After years of discussion and deliberation, the Australian road transport sector now faces a painful reality – critical heavy vehicle driver shortages.
In the rich tapestry that is the Australian road transport sector – who are Women in Trucking Australia (WiTA) and what is the organisation’s strategic focus?
When it comes to female interest in trucking as a career, ambition and enthusiasm abound. We know women want to join the nation’s heavy vehicle driver workforce. We know through lived experience that gender bias continues to stand as the defining barrier – ensuring too many simply don’t get across the line. We also know there is still much work to be done.
Set to move into its fourth year of operations – not-for-profit Women in Trucking Australia was established by female drivers to champion diversity and inclusion in the heavy vehicle driver workforce through the recognition of women as a critical, competent, credible and largely untapped resource.
Facebook analytics in the 28 days to October 31 show the gender distribution of WiTA followers at 43 per cent female and 55 per cent male – a clear indication of the interest Australian women have in trucking as a career. These figures are even more telling, given the stark reality that female drivers comprise less than 2 per cent of the current truck driver cohort.
Like any organisation WiTA is only as good as the sum of its parts, and those parts just happen to be an extremely dedicated, professional group of like-minded directors – including five experienced MC drivers, a CPA/CA and an IT specialist.
Together, the WiTA board works to ensure the implementation of integrated corporate governance and management systems that continuously identify, prioritise and sequence the organisation’s most strategic issues with a focus on strengthening the flow of female talent into this male dominated sector.
In early October, WiTA was delighted to be named one of just 15 grantees nationally to receive funding through the NHVR as part of the Federal Government’s $3.5 million investment towards heavy vehicle safety projects.
WiTA’s pilot Foot in the Door program – scheduled to commence in the first quarter of 2023 – will bridge the licence to employment gap by engaging with industry stakeholders nationally to link already licenced, inexperienced female HR/HC/MC drivers who’ve NOT been able to get that critical ‘foot in the door’ with training organisations and employers nationally.
It is anticipated that successful applicants will have access to up to $5000 to be used in conjunction with state and federal government subsidies to get up to 70 women over the line into sustainable trucking careers.
Applications for the Foot in the Door program will open early November, with details available on the WiTA Facebook page.
The timing of this critical pilot project is perfect – with green shoots appearing industry-wide as women report trucking companies now taking the issue of gender equity seriously. WiTA’s diversity is its strength and thanks to the commitment and efforts of so many, the organisation has a strong heartbeat.
As we embark on our fourth operational year with enthusiasm and optimism, we will continue to elevate the voices of female drivers – most of whom fly under the radar – sharing their unique stories to shift the conversation around gender diversity and inclusion and to establish an entity destined to become the peak body representing Australian female heavy vehicle drivers.
Lyndal Denny is CEO, Women in Trucking Australia