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Maintaining momentum throughout difficult year

OPINION: Road freight kept rolling along throughout 2021 as many other industries struggled


I like to reflect on 2021 as the year of resilience. We have all had to show patience, strength and more importantly resilience during a second COVID year. The transport industry was no exception, swiftly adapting to rapidly changing regulations and requirements, all while keeping the show on the road.

Our industry has been classed as an essential service. However, during this pandemic, our ability to perform crucial tasks has been difficult. Society has come to realise how crucial deliveries are, and without trucks, supplies cannot be delivered.

Specifically, keeping Australia moving and reinforcing to all Australians that delivering freight is a critical component in maintaining a liveable lifestyle.

It has also seen a slight shift in gaining a positive public perception, so long overdue, for our industry. This should not be a lost opportunity. As a collective, we now need to carry this forward and develop ways to highlight and promote the impressive work that is accomplished.

Promoting our brand delivers extraordinary benefits and is a vital component in creating a strong, viable future. Every person involved in the transport industry has a role to play in this promotion, whether it be by saying a simple “thank you” to a work colleague or having a positive conversation to a person who has limited knowledge of the industry.

Greater understanding is the first step towards creating a positive public perception, positive work force growth and positive engagement between all road users – leading to safer, calmer roads.

Professional driver shortage

Unfortunately, during 2021 the massive shortfall of suitable drivers became increasingly evident. Operations across Australia were scrambling to employ professional drivers to sustain the continual rise of the freight task growth. Companies did not have a large scope or choice of professional drivers to employ, parking equipment rather than filling roles with inexperienced operators, impeding productivity.

The future of the transport industry depends on a secure, proficient workforce.

Creating a driver friendly work environment for the professional and skilled is crucial in sustainability; a mass exodus of this cohort because working conditions and regulations were beyond reasonable and bearable would have a severe impact on productivity.

RELATED ARTICLE: NRFA releases COVID safe trucking plan

Time is now the essence to invest and nurture not only a younger generation but also mature age people wanting to enter the industry, to fill the void of lost opportunities simply because roles cannot be filled.

Making the transport industry an attractive, professional, first choice career path is paramount in keeping an increasing freight task on track for future trajectory.

As a collective, associations collaborating as a strong united front would initiate significant changes and a positive future together. The National Road Freighters Association (NRFA), run by volunteers, is gaining momentum and is being heard, not only by other associations but also has constant conversations and engagement with regulatory bodies. I would encourage anyone who would like to see positive changes within our industry to become active members of the NRFA and have a voice, gaining strength by numbers.


SALLY TIPPING is the managing director of family-owned Tippings Transport Pty Ltd, based in Dubbo, central west NSW. Sally is a board member of the National Road Freighters Association, a member of Transport Women Australia Limited and founder of the ‘Wave to A Truckie’ campaign which highlights and positively promotes the Transport Industry.

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