Thirteen of Australia’s newest diversity champions are set to take part in a ground-breaking initiative to improve industry image, build a stronger workforce and showcase opportunity.
In a special announcement at the Brisbane Truck Show today, the Australian Trucking Association and Teletrac Navman welcomed the 2021 Driving Change Diversity Program champions, who come from a wide range of backgrounds and experiences, from truck driving and operation management through to training and administration.
“The trucking industry plays a crucial role in the lives of all Australians, but it has its challenges. There is a strong need for more drivers and skilled workers in all areas,” ATA Chair David Smith said.
“Diversity plays a big role in creating positive workplaces and is proven to develop more inclusive environments, increase productivity and give employers access to a greater range of talent.
“This program is our way of addressing this issue and broadening the industry talent pool. We are driving change to ensure our industry has the tools to foster inclusive and welcoming environments for people from all backgrounds and expertise,” he said.
The inaugural 2020 program saw an overwhelming amount of support from businesses and industry members, demonstrating an understanding of the importance of celebrating and embracing diversity.
The 2021 Driving Change Diversity Program will showcase its champions through a social media storytelling series, highlighting the diverse and varied opportunities on offer in the Australian trucking industry.
Champions will then be hosted at the ATA’s Trucking Australia conference in September for an intensive workshop where they will learn how to create change and facilitate diversity in their workplace and community, share personal insights, and develop clear action items on how to drive change within industry.
“As a proud leader of diversity and inclusion in industry, we’re thrilled to welcome our 2021 diversity champions,” Teletrac Navman Director of Marketing Australasia, Megan Duncan, said.
“While they may not realise it, these champions are already making a big difference in their workplace and communities, shining a light on the amazing opportunities the industry has to offer. The program is about coming together to share our connections and challenges, start a conversation and learn how we can drive change,” she said.
2021 DRIVING CHANGE DIVERSITY CHAMPIONS
Melissa Barry, NatRoad
Carving out a career in many male-dominated sectors of the transport industry, director of Border Crane Consultants Melissa Barry understands the challenges faced by women and other minority groups in industry. Melissa sees the value of diversity within business and strives to be open minded, to treat employees equally and to break down barriers to equal opportunity.
To create more inclusive employment and training opportunities, Melissa has developed a standardised payroll classification and performance review process within the business, ensuring that all employees are paid according to their skills and ability, regardless of gender or background. Melissa has also worked to create policies and procedures that are inclusive for employees with a disability and that training methods are supportive of these team members. Melissa’s philosophy is that if she cannot recruit the skill, she will train the skill.
Keen to share her experiences with the 2021 Driving Change Diversity Program cohort, Melissa is also enthusiastic to learn and develop her skills and understand how other individuals and businesses adopt diversity within industry.
Sarah-Jane Collins, Australian Livestock and Rural Transporters Association
By participating in the 2021 Driving Change Diversity Program, Sarah-Jane Collins hopes to demonstrate to women and mothers that they can achieve anything when given the opportunity, and to raise awareness of the value that unique and diverse individuals bring to the workforce.
Heavy Vehicle driver at Divall’s Earthmoving and Bulk Haulage in Goulburn, NSW, Sarah became involved in the transport industry after completing the company’s Women Behind the Wheel program in 2018. Sarah has become well respected among the Divall’s team for her dedication and commitment to her role during her recent pregnancy while caring for her young daughter by herself.
Sarah believes the opportunities in industry for people of diverse backgrounds are unlimited. She is keen to see more young people join the workforce and showcase the industry as something bigger than ‘just steering a vehicle.’ Sarah’s vision for the trucking industry is to see employers offer support for working mums and create pathways for those who may not have considered a career in trucking or been aware of its many varied roles.
Erin Compitiello, Victorian Transport Association
Erin Compitiello is Employee Relations Manager at K&S Freighters in Melbourne, and is recognised by her friends and colleagues for her resilience, leadership and intelligence.
Erin is keen to combat the inherent and systemic bias that women face in the workplace.To Erin, diversity means respect and acceptance, by understanding, embracing, and celebrating the qualities of diverse individuals. Erin believes a diverse workforce brings a competitive advantage and is a strategic business differentiator.
Erin’s goals as a 2021 diversity champion are to connect with and learn from like-minded peers while contributing to change. She hopes to enhance her influence to drive change within her workplace, industry, and community, as well as inspiring others to champion diversity change. Erin envisages removing barriers to allow talented and capable women to choose the transport industry as a bona fide option for their careers.
Kerri Connors, Tasmanian Transport Association
Training Supervisor at AJL Training in Tasmania, Kerri Connors is actively engaged in industry development programs to promote industry image and encourage a more diverse workforce. Well respected by her peers and industry colleagues, Kerri provides her time, support and expertise to industry forums and projects that advance gender diversity and promote careers within the industry, including Women in Transport Tasmania and SRT Logistics’s Women Behind the Wheel initiative.
In 2017, Kerri was named Australia’s most fuel-efficient driver in the Volvo Challenge. She then went on to compete in the global FuelWatch Challenge in Gothenburg, Sweden, where she was the only woman on this world stage. In her role at AJL Transport, Kerri works to promote career opportunities, while providing training and mentoring to industry drivers and new entrants. Kerri has a desire to positively influence the workforce through quality and relevant industry training.
Kerri hopes to use the 2021 Driving Change Diversity Program to explore strategies for improving workforce diversity and how to provide support to women and young people who are looking to establish a career in the industry. Kerri would like to see more women in non-traditional roles in the Tasmanian transport industry with a strong system of support.
Lisa Fraser, Teletrac Navman
Lisa Fraser is Membership Services Manager at the Queensland Trucking Association, and believes diversity means thinking broadly, challenging the norm, influencing change, and supporting people to maximise their potential. From an early age, Lisa has understood the importance of being considerate to others and looking beyond the surface to recognise the strengths of others.
Lisa’s vision for diversity is to have small and medium businesses recognised as the lifeblood of the industry, as she believes they are often overshadowed by larger players due to their size and strength. Lisa also believes the role of women in family businesses must be put on the agenda and recognised for the critical role they play, often in the background, to keep their businesses and families functioning.
By taking part in the 2021 Driving Change Diversity Program, Lisa hopes to give a voice to small, medium, and family businesses, to ensure they have the opportunity and tools needed to contribute to solutions that will ensure the viability of road freight in Australia.
Nicki French, Australian Furniture Removers Association
The most senior female in her organisation, Nicki French is General Manager of Operations at Grace. Coming to Australia in 2012 from the UK, Nicki provides a positive influence both in her role at Grace and as a national councillor of the Australian Furniture Removers Association.
To Nicki, diversity means a balanced workforce with a blended mix of age, gender and culture across all grades and roles. Equally at home in the boardroom and on the warehouse dock with the crews, Nicki is seen as a strong role model for those in the organisation and wider industry. Her ambition for the future of trucking is an industry which stands up to poor behaviour and does not tolerate racism, sexism, or any other form of discrimination.
Nicki is passionate about achieving positive outcomes and sees the 2021 Driving Change Diversity Program as an opportunity to become more comfortable in harnessing her own experiences to promote diversity in the removalist industry.
Peta Gowans, Teletrac Navman
As a 2021 Driving Change Diversity Champion, Peta Gowans hopes to demonstrate the benefits of maintaining a diverse workforce and the important career paths available within industry.
Setting an example of inclusiveness and the benefits of bringing innovative ideas to the task at hand, Peta is the first point of contact at Kelvin Baxter Transport. Peta’s role and capability in the business spans across a range of areas, from administration and HR to operations support and driver training.
Peta is a proud Aboriginal woman with strong ties to her heritage and family. Peta believes diversity instils an understanding of difference in every individual. Peta would like to show young Aboriginal people that where there is opportunity, there is capacity to be treated as an equal, based solely on ability, and a willingness to participate and achieve.
Peta believes the Driving Change program will provide an opportunity to learn and engage outside the four walls of employment and show her community what can be achieved.
David Haoust, Teletrac Navman
David Haoust’s vision for the transport industry is to see wide acceptance of people from diverse backgrounds, with organisations harnessing everyone’s strength and positivity. Director of Go West Tours in Bunbury Western Australia, David has a strong and proactive approach towards diversity in the workplace.
In developing his company’s values, David and his management team have encouraged diversity in the workplace and, as a result, have a wonderful mix of people from a variety of nationalities, sexualities, cultures, and religious beliefs.
To David, diversity means accepting and nurturing all people for the greater cause of positive human interaction, so people can live happy and healthy lives, passing on goodwill throughout their communities. David is also keen to see the industry create more avenues for employment and a stronger network of people from all backgrounds.
As a 2021 Driving Change Diversity Champion, David hopes to become an ambassador for change and bring positive learnings back to his workplace for both clients and employees. David wishes to build a network of like-minded, open people who are willing to share their knowledge and experience.
Shane McLoughlin, TruckSafe
Since moving to Australia from a small town in Ireland in 2015, Shane McLoughlin says diversity has become a big part of his life. In his role as Production Manager at Formula Chemicals in NSW, Shane works with an extremely diverse workforce and has always shown an interest in learning from those with unfamiliar cultural beliefs and traditions and how these factors can shape a person’s identity.
Diagnosed with an extremely rare neuro-muscular disease at age 17, Shane says people have always had difficulty understanding why he is different. However, Shane sees difference as something to be embraced. One of the things that makes him happy is to see all kinds of people come together to share their story, build relationships and have understanding for each other.
Shane’s vision for the future of transport is an industry in which accepts and embraces all people for all roles. Whether in administration, truck driving or product packing, Shane also hopes to see more pathways for people with a disability.
Shane is passionate about creating diverse and inclusive workforces industry wide. By taking part in the 2021 Driving Change Diversity Program, he hopes to meet people who have shared similar experiences, develop his personal skills, and speak openly about how to make a difference in industry.
Courtney Sertdemir, Road Freight NSW
Courtney Sertdemir believes that there is a job for everyone and that by removing barriers to the recruitment process, everyone gets a fair opportunity.
As Talent Acquisition Specialist at Australia Post, Courtney works in recruiting for operational roles in transport across Australia Post and StarTrack. Courtney is a strong advocate for diversity and inclusion. She sits on a gender steering committee, spends her time networking with industry leaders and has also recently joined Transport Women Australia. Courtney is passionate about increasing female representation in industry, as well as helping those with a disability find a career they are supported in.
To support a more diverse workforce and address industry needs, Courtney hopes to create an internal program at Australia Post where red van drivers can obtain their heavy rigid and heavy combination licences. Supported in the new roles with mentorship, the upskilling would then see the drivers join the company’s transport team.
As a 2021 Driving Change Diversity Champion, Courtney hopes to gain as many ideas as possible of how to increase diversity in transport. She is also keen to develop strong professional connections and meet a mentor who may be able to support her.
Hossain Someh, Queensland Trucking Association
Hossain Someh is an owner-driver at All Purpose Transport and was an Iranian refugee who came to Australia from a foreign war zone. Purchasing his own truck after working as a trolley collection person at IKEA Logan, Hossain is now a role model for the IKEA Global Refugee program.
Hossain is often seen helping new migrant drivers at the loading point where he takes time to show them processes that may be challenging due to a language barrier. He is proud of his nationality and has recently been able to bring his wife and children to Australia. Through Hossain’s actions, he has shown how a refugee can leave their family, undertake personal development, build a successful small business, and become an important part of a transport company.
As a participant in the 2021 Driving Change Diversity Program, Hossain hopes to raise awareness of where new workers can be found to address the trucking industry’s underlying worker shortage and ageing workforce. Hossain believes that migrant workers need to have opportunity for proper training and development to ensure chain of responsibility, safety, and customer service is well-understood.
Hannah Stewart, Teletrac Navman
Hannah Stewart is operations manager at Stows Waste Management in Melbourne, entering the waste and transport industries at age 24. Hannah’s initial experience found an underrepresentation of young women in industry, so she has strived to break down barriers and foster a positive environment for others.
Last year Hannah obtained her heavy rigid licence to gain a better understanding of the challenges her field operators face and was also awarded a 2020 Driving the Difference scholarship from Transport Women Australia.
Hannah believes that diversity means everyone has an equal opportunity to not only participate but excel in whatever they choose to pursue. She says diversity is what makes each individual unique, which allows for a greater ranger of experience and knowledge.
Keen to meet and network with other participants, Hannah hopes the 2021 Driving Change Diversity Program will allow her to further develop her skills on how to champion change and encourage more women and young people into the waste and transport industries.
Bronwyn Wilson, Teletrac Navman
Bronwyn Wilson is sole director of West Tankers, a company she started at age 35 after spending most of her life working as a motel cleaner. A determined mother and business owner, Bronwyn runs the business with her daughters and husband, and in its 17 years has grown the company from one truck to a fleet that services major projects across three states.
Bronwyn believes diversity means equal opportunity for all, and endeavours to have as many females in her business as possible in all positions from drivers to management. Having experienced adversity as a young female truck driver and business owner, Bronwyn strives to be a role model to her daughters and other women in her business.
As a 2021 Driving Change Diversity Champion, Bronwyn would like to expand her knowledge of diversity within industry and how to ensure her business can deliver value to the wider industry and associated groups she is involved in.