As 2019 draws to a close, it’s timely to reflect on key achievements and milestones attained over the last 12 months, and set the scene for policy, legislative and regulatory aspirations for the future.
It also provides the chance to remind operators of the importance of ensuring they do not lose sight of the health, safety and general wellbeing and duty of care they have for employees across every level of the supply chain during what is shaping up as another busy festive season.
The key areas of focus for the VTA this year were centred around improving road safety and operating standards via training and education and increasing awareness among operators and advocating for sensible changes to heavy vehicle licensing regimes and national heavy vehicle law.
I’m pleased that we’ve delivered on these and other goals, especially over the last 12 months where we’ve introduced a range of new initiatives and made significant progress on important proposals that will improve conditions for the industry.
Training and education were at the forefront for the VTA, as both an important revenue stream, and as a critical part of improving standards, attracting and retaining new drivers, and addressing driver shortages.
Our Driver Delivery program has so far trained close to 100 new men and women drivers, directly placed them into employment and more importantly has placed them in a lifelong career in transport.
This program was so successful the Victorian Government committed $4 million to fund 800 new drivers over four years, so we look forward to collaborating with the government to see this through.
Our ongoing commitment to improve safety was also recognised in the Association’s appointment to lead the Victorian Heavy Vehicle Licensing Review – which reviewed the state’s heavy vehicle licensing processes in a bid to improve skills and training, safety standards and attract young drivers to the industry.
Another calendar highlights this year was the VTA State Conference, themed ‘Keeping up with Transport Reforms.’
Understanding the huge infrastructure projects within Victoria, development of road user changes, defining minimum standards and heavy vehicle national law were some of the issues discussed at the conference, which provided a unique opportunity for operators to discuss how change may impact interactions with customers, suppliers and employees in the supply chain.
These and other issues including industrial relations, infrastructure, training, education and taxation will be on the radar at our next State Conference, to be held from 1-3 March 2020, at Phillip Island. I urge you to save the date in your calendar for another must-attend VTA State Conference.
We were also pleased to announce the Cleaner Freight Initiative in conjunction with the Maribyrnong Truck Action Group. This program is improving safety and amenity outcomes for inner west residents by incentivising the use of modern, lower emission trucks as a condition for drivers being able to travel through these areas for longer hours on restricted roads.
Other notable calendar events included our annual Port Outlook Seminar, annual Women’s Lunch and the 30th Australian Freight Industry Awards where the industry came together to celebrate the industry’s best performers.
We also elected a new President and Vice President at our Annual General Meeting in late October, with Wettenhalls CEO Mike Lean elected President and Mick Rocke elected Vice President. Dennis Ryan was also re-elected Vice President.
I would like to acknowledge and thank Cameron Dunn for the professionalism and enthusiasm he has brought to our Executive Council as President over the last three years.
He has been a tremendous support to me and the Secretariat, tasked with implementing the strategic direction of the Council, and we are grateful for his years of dedicated service.
As we approach the holiday season, I would like to thank you for your support of the VTA and our industry this year and wish you all a very merry Christmas and best wishes for the New Year.
Please take every pre-caution to keep your workers, your family and yourself safe on the roads and elsewhere, and I look forward to continuing to advocate for our great industry on these pages well into the future.