Saturday, May 25, 2024

Ipswich council’s drive for change

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Ipswich City Council is aiming to improve gender diversity by working to reverse the inequality in the transport industry.

Council has been granted an exemption to advertise for ‘females only’ to be recruited for a training program to obtain a Heavy Rigid licence needed to drive a waste truck.

The council said it wants to proactively encourage more female applicants in driver roles to encourage workplace diversity and become more representative of the Ipswich community.

Currently there is only one female driver out of the approximately 50 full-time waste truck drivers.

Chief Executive Officer David Farmer said Ipswich’s population was growing quickly and council regularly needed to recruit new drivers to service the need.

“At the moment, half the potential workforce don’t have access to these opportunities,” Mr Farmer said.

“Our workforce should reflect the wider Ipswich community, and that creating pathways for more women to become drivers in the waste truck fleet will support this.

Council submitted to the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission (QIRC) to seek an exemption under the Anti-Discrimination Act so it could advertise for a female-only training program for waste truck drivers.

The submission stated that there are often socio-economic barriers faced by women seeking to meet the heavy rigid (HR) licence prerequisite as there are significant costs involved in obtaining the licence including specialised lessons, the cost of the licence itself and the time involved for the lessons.

Women are recognised as being under represented across the transport industry and these measures aim to reverse the inequality by assisting women to enter the industry.

Further planning will now be undertaken to form a driver training program that will involve free training provided to trainees to achieve a HR licence.

“Now that QIRC has granted the exemption we can get started on designing a program that will remove some of those barriers faced by women,” said Mr Farmer.

“Most importantly, the program will be open to any woman with a driver’s licence and an aptitude for the work. They will not be expected to already have truck driving experience.

“We hope this exemption will pave the way for other councils and companies to participate.”

In the council submission to the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission, it is stated that it has been demonstrated female drivers tend to have less driving related incidents and less serious WH&S matters related to driving incidents.

Similar initiatives previously taken by some large scale mining and construction companies have found great success with female driver programs that show female truck drivers could help create a more inclusive and safer culture.

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