NSW peak body announces Excellence Awards


The winners of the 2023 Road Freight NSW (RFNSW) Excellence Awards have been announced at a special ceremony at Cockle Bay Wharf in Sydney today.

RFNSW chief executive Simon O’Hara said: “These men and women are the ‘best of the best’ and all represent the very high-standards, professionalism, productivity, leadership and an all-important commitment to road safety achieved across the trucking industry over the past 12 months.

“On behalf of the board and executive of RFNSW, we would like to commend all of this year’s winners and all of our award entrants and thank them for their unwavering dedication and service to the NSW freight industry.

“We are also honoured that Senator Glenn Sterle was our MC for the day and we thank him for his ongoing interest and support of RFNSW and our members.”

O’Hara also thanked the major sponsor of the award ceremony, the Australian Trucking Association.

The winners are:

Outstanding Contribution to the Industry – John Preston, Alliance Transport

John Preston is an industry veteran, working in the transport industry since 1985. He was a customs broker before starting Alliance Transport with his business partner in 2008.

He has been part of the Container Sub Committee for ATA NSW and now RFNSW since 2014. Preston is committed to ensuring that the container transport industry is given fair and equitable representation at all levels of policy making. He has participated on industry and transport department led committees speaking out about the challenges the sector faces in the fight to deliver an efficient and economical freight delivery service for importers and exporters in the Sydney and NSW market. Award sponsored by GMP Law.

CEO’s Award – Habib Francis

Habib Francis CEO and later COO of BagTrans for many years is an example of the professionalism of a CEO in a tough industry. A tough negotiator, fair taskmaster and unfailingly polite, Francis has been someone who has, like clockwork, consistently delivered on his word to the industry and also his many employees. Francis now runs his own business, HSE Services, and provides expert advice to the industry. Award sponsored by icare.

Transport Woman of the Year – Sally-ann Eather, Eather Group

Sally-ann Eather entered the industry in 2010 after she and her husband purchased a 1995 pink Mack ‘Pinkie’, which they had to paint white to get a driver.

The Eather Group is now a multi-award winning and very successful business with a fleet of 18 heavy vehicle combinations and 14 pieces of heavy machinery. Eather’s studies have included a Cert IV in Accounting, a Cert IV in Business Management and she is currently studying a BA. in Sustainable Agriculture and Food Security and a BA. in Applied Leadership and Critical Thinking.

Eather has been instrumental in driving and maintaining accreditation in the group’s ISO’s, NHVR Mass Management, Chain of Responsibility and is driving their journey toward becoming a certified B Corp. She has implemented training membership with NSW Institute of Civil Infrastructure, an Employee Assistance Program and is continually evolving internal programs to promote continued improvement and company culture, including an end-to-end digitisation transformation. Award sponsored by TCA.

Professional Driver of the Year – Jake Perrett, Carters Heavy Haulage & Transport

Jake Perrett is a heavy vehicle driver / mechanic. At the conclusion of his apprenticeship, and still only 21, Perrett ventured into the world of the supply chain and logistics industry and joined Carter Heavy Haulage & Transport as a heavy haulage, heavy vehicle operator.

Perrett embraces learning and development, completing his Construction Industry Induction training as well as various client-specific induction courses. He obtained a High-Risk Work Licence, a Work From Height Licence and successfully completed and obtained formal qualifications in Working with Powerlines, TLIF1001 – Work Health and Safety Procedures, and TLIF0001 – Apply CoR Legislation and Regulations. In 2022, Perrett obtained his Dangerous Goods Licence.

Perrett provides an exceptional level of customer service and ensures breakdown rates are extremely low. He oversees qualified heavy vehicle mechanics to maintain the fleet in-house and present the fleet to the highest standard.  Perrett constantly communicates with customers to manage and monitor their expectations, engaging with clients at every step from the planning of a project to final delivery. Award sponsored by bp.

Safety Culture Award – Andrea Hamilton-Vaughan, Orange City & Cabonne Councils

Hamilton-Vaughan is employed by Orange City and Cabonne Councils as their road safety officer. She has demonstrated a serious dedication to her work involving road safety, not only in her local area but for all road users. Hamilton-Vaughan’s role is primarily as an educator in the community with a focus on behavioural change programs to facilitate safer road user practices.

Hamilton-Vaughan instigated the POWERNAP campaign to support and highlight fatigue management.  She engages heavily with numerous agencies, including Transport NSW, to advise and recommend strategic planning of future road models. Award sponsored by NHVR.

Emerging Leader Award – Caitlin Barlow, JATEC Transport

Barlow joined the industry in April 2022 and was hands-on from the get-go. Even though she joined in a management position, she went on the road with the drivers to better understand their role – even though it meant 2am starts.

Barlow speaks at high schools on behalf of TWAL to encourage young people to consider a career in the transport industry, even developing flyers about the pathway to obtaining an MC licence. Barlow also speaks at universities, advocating for the transport industry and encouraging business graduates to consider a career in the industry. She also helps guide many small businesses in the industry with social media and marketing. Award sponsored by Teletrac Navman.

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