Better safety through training and recognition

It’s hard to believe that we’re almost halfway through the calendar year. Much has happened in these first five months of 2023, providing context within which to reflect on our achievements, and consolidate our focus on the tasks and objectives that remain.

Training remains at the fore for the VTA, primarily out of necessity to professionally train drivers the industry is so desperate for, and to enshrine higher levels of professionalism throughout the freight industry and the supply chains we service.

We’re on our way to achieving our goal this year of training at least 1000 people in freight and logistics roles, from heavy vehicle and forklift driving through to warehousing and distribution centre roles.

Through the support of the Victorian Government, which recognises the value in providing training to produce higher-skilled, competent, and safer freight workers, we’ve trained hundreds of new and existing transport workers through our Driver Delivery and Freight Industry Training programs.

Freight Industry Training, in partnership with the Victorian Government, is addressing the significant unmet workforce demand that our industry is currently experiencing. The project offers approved training in heavy vehicle driving, forklift driving and warehouse skills, followed by referrals into positions with leading transport and logistics companies.

What’s so encouraging about the program is the interest it has attracted from women and indigenous Australians, one of the key objectives of the program. We know that women actively pursue new career opportunities, especially after prolonged time away from the workforce raising children, which is why this program was deliberately calibrated towards women and women over 45.

Our Driver Delivery program is also continuing to attract and train new heavy vehicle drivers, whilst also underpinning our advocacy for driver licencing reform that is based on time-based, professional instruction, instead of just experience behind the wheel.

Since its inception the program has seen hundreds of drivers enter the industry in partnership with the VTA, which then actively mentors them in their new roles.

More recently, and in conjunction with Engistics and the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator, the VTA has been offering a series of free Oversize Over Mass Load Restraint Training Programs for operators throughout regional Victoria and Melbourne. Safety takes many forms and as important as it is to drive safely, it’s equally important that loads are correctly restrained in the interests of overall road safety.

The series has proven popular with the initial workshops in Melbourne, Portland, Geelong, and Sale extremely well-attended. Further workshops are being held through August in Mildura, Bendigo, Wangaratta and Melbourne, so contact the VTA on 03 9646 8590 if you’re interested in attending.

Recognising freight workers for their safety accomplishments is almost as important as producing and training safe workers, so it was with considerable delight that the VTA has been able to resume our Driver Salute recognition program which, like so many things, was interrupted by the pandemic.

Driver Salute is a bi-monthly reward program held in conjunction with Goodyear Dunlop and DriveRisk for heavy vehicle drivers who demonstrate outstanding and consistent safety practices behind the wheel.

The community rightly has an expectation that heavy vehicle drivers will prioritise the safety of the motoring public and themselves ahead of everything else. Driver Salute recognises these drivers and demonstrates to the public the transport industry’s commitment to enshrining a best practice safety culture in every heavy vehicle driver.

We were very pleased to recognise two outstanding drivers in the first half of 2023. Drivers Luke Traintafillou from Vulcan Steel and Tony Waalwyk from Bingo Industries were selected as winners for their demonstrated knowledge of safe driving behaviours and an ability to put them into practice while out on the road.

Looking ahead, heavy vehicle reform and advocacy to help reduce cost pressures in the supply chain will remain a focus for the remainder of the year. The federal parliament will soon review draft legislation around minimum standards, which the VTA through ARTIO, and together with other state-based industry groups, are advocating for in relation to operation, cost, and people management within the road transport industry.

I look forward to continuing to work in close partnership with operators and drivers to achieving our vision of improving the environment upon which our great industry operates.

  • Peter Anderson is CEO, Victorian Transport Association

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