June 3, 2022

Delegates of the TWU Vic/Tas Branch have unveiled a “Transport Safety Action Plan” calling on the Government to make transport safer and more sustainable across Victoria and Tasmania.

TWU health and safety representatives are also calling on the Victorian and Tasmanian Governments to invest in a local launch of Steering Healthy Minds, a peer-to-peer mental health first aid initiative supporting transport workers across trucking, logistics, buses, waste management, the gig economy and aviation.

Steering Healthy Minds founded partially by the TWU, launched in 2020 in Queensland with support from the Palaszczuk Government to address the chronic mental strain of transport work and high suicide rates in the industry.

The “Transport Safety Action Plan”, endorsed by TWU members at the TWU Victoria/Tasmania Delegates conference, contains an eight-point plan for the Victorian and Tasmanian Governments and the City of Melbourne to enact:

  1. An independent body to set enforceable minimum standards, ensuring standards are lifted across Victoria and Tasmania’s trucking industry.
  2. A new police taskforce to deal with violent assaults, abuse and sexual harassment on cabin crew and bus drivers.
  3. Upgrade any truck stop over 10 years old and expand the number of rest stops, ensuring access to healthy food and exercise options
  4. Double the number of safe loading zones in the City of Melbourne, to reinstate zones which were removed and replaced by cycle lanes. 
  5. Funding for aviation ground operations training, tied to permanent, full-time jobs to deal with the major skills shortage in the industry.
  6. Half-price registration for truck owner-drivers to ease economic pressure.  
  7. Free heavy vehicle licensing for drivers under the age of 40 to address the aging workforce and driver shortages putting a strain on the industry.
  8. Removal of bus driver ticketing obligations that often lead to violent assaults, and new bus routes for growth corridors in western suburbs.

The TWU will today write to both Governments calling for a meeting to seek commitment to the action plan and mental health initiative at the earliest possible opportunity.

“TWU delegates are calling for action to tackle deadly contracting pressure in transport supply chains as well as the mental health impacts of those pressures. We must save lives on our roads. That means addressing the dangerous economic pressures on operators and drivers to delay maintenance, speed, skip rest breaks, and drive fatigued.

“Transport can and should be made safer by ensuring truckies have plenty of opportunity to rest and get a nutritious meal, the city has safe loading zones, worker shortage pressures are eased, and bus drivers and cabin crew aren’t acting as gatekeepers rife for abuse.

“Transport workers in Australia’s deadliest industry are exposed to horrific road trauma events, bus drivers are in constant fear of being assaulted, cabin crew are aviation’s first responders, while gig workers are exploited and denied basic rights with the constant threat of termination hanging over them.

“Low pay, job insecurity, isolation, understaffing and shift work can also contribute to poor sleep, depression and anxiety. We need to make transport jobs safer and healthier. At the same time, we must recognise the prevalence of mental health concerns and encourage peer-to-peer mental health support. That’s why we need the Andrews and Gutwein Governments to simultaneously commit to our Transport Safety Action Plan and invest in the launch of Steering Healthy Minds in Victoria and Tasmania,” said TWU Vic/Tas Branch Secretary Mike McNess.