Obtaining a job with little experience in the road transport industry is tough enough, but having a disability brings up its own set of barriers. Tamara Whitsed reports on one woman’s determination to beat the odds and obtain her dream job
BRISBANE TRUCK driver Candice Lureman has settled into her dream job behind the wheel of a 2012 MercedesBenz Actros 2648 B-double.
Candice, 35, who is deaf, applied for 3500 truck driving jobs before joining the team at Visa Global Logistics in January 2017.
In the Actros, she usually carts containerised import freight with shifts ranging between 10 and 12 hours long, starting at 4am or 5am. These busy work days include wharf slots, delivering full containers, collecting empty containers, and dehiring empty containers.
Candice says faced many challenges after deciding she wanted to drive trucks. First she had to find someone willing to train her.
“Once they realised I was deaf, their excuses as to why they couldn’t help me flowed thick and fast,” Candice says.
Fortunately, Strategix Training Group helped her obtain her Heavy Rigid licence in 2011.
Soon after, she found work with a large transport company but she lost this job in September 2013 and battled to find her next opportunity.
Candice received many responses to her 3500 truck driving applications “but once I texted them to explain my deafness, all I received were emails or texts wishing me all the best for the future,” Candice says.
“Getting past HR attitudes toward women and people living with disability became my greatest challenge.”
DRIVING A 2012 Mercedes Benz Actros 2648 B-double for Visa Global Logistics is a dream come true for Brisbane mother of two, Candice Lureman.
Candice, 35, who is deaf, began driving for Visa Global Logistics in January 2017. She usually carts containerised import freight for the privately owned company, which specialises in international freight forwarding.
Her shifts are between 10 and 12 hours long, starting at 4am or 5am. These busy work days usually include wharf slots, delivering full containers, collecting empty containers, and dehiring empty containers.
Candice was born in South Africa and lived in New Zealand before moving to Australia nine years ago.
She hadn’t driven a manual car until she arrived in Australia, so she consulted Google to learn about gearboxes. That’s when she stumbled across an article about 18-speed Road Rangers which captured her imagination.
“I decided to become a truck driver,” she says.
Finding people willing to train and employ an aspiring truckie who is deaf was a great challenge.
“I knew my journey would be difficult but I pushed on, determined to achieve my goal,” Candice says.
“In those early days I contacted many driving schools to do my heavy-rigid training, but once they realised I was deaf their excuses as to why they couldn’t help me flowed thick and fast.”
Fortunately she met Wayne Striplin, national operations manager of Strategix Training Group at the 2011 Brisbane Truck Show. Wayne helped Candice obtain her Heavy Rigid (HR) licence.
Soon after she was thrilled to find work with a large national transport company. She lost this job in September 2013.
Candice found work as a housekeeper but was determined to return to the truck industry.
“I applied for over 5017 jobs,” she says, and about 3500 of these were for truck driving positions.
Most of the other applications were
for transport-related work. Many companies responded to Candice’s applications. They left messages for her to phone them back.
“But once I texted them to explain my deafness, all I received were emails or texts wishing me all the best for the future. Getting past HR attitudes toward women and people living with disability became my greatest challenge.”
Regardless, Candice persisted with training. In 2014 she upgraded to a Multi Combination (MC) licence and also completed warehousing, logistics, cleaning and surface extraction certificates.
“Now I found myself fully trained and qualified with nowhere to go.”
There were more challenges ahead: “I lost my truck licence in August 2016 because I failed my hearing test with hearing aids at 44 decibels.”
Even then, Candice refused to give up her dream. Instead, she went on to gain more qualifications and before the year was over she had tickets for a front-end loader, excavator, integrated tool carrier and telehandler.
Her faith was rewarded. In October 2016, the Assessing Fitness to Drive Guidelines changed, and Candice was able to regain her truck licence.
The new guidelines give drivers who are deaf an option to use vibrating seats, flashing lights and other technology instead of hearing aids.
By this stage Candice had won the support and respect of Heather Jones. Heather is CEO of Pilbara Heavy Haulage Girls, a West Australian driver training institute where Candice gained three months of training and work experience in 2015.
Recognising Candice’s determination and skill, Heather was happy to recommend her to Visa Global Logistics, which welcomed her on staff in mid-January 2017.
Heather says Visa Global Logistics was eager to increase its workplace diversity, and she commends national transport manager Scott Walker for his commitment to helping Candice thrive in her new job.
“Women tend to bring a natural safety culture to an environment.”
She has observed that Candice has a “higher level” of safety because she is “100 per cent focused at all times”. Unlike most drivers, Candice is not distracted by the two-way radio, mobile phone or other sounds.
“I’m so proud of Candice – from where she has come from to what she has been able to achieve now.”
Visa Global Logistics’ Queensland transport supervisor, Laurence Pilgrim, describes Candice as “a fantastic find for us”.
“She works so hard and wants to succeed in this industry and fulfil her dream job of driving trucks.
“All we had to do was work out the best way to communicate when Candice is not in the yard. We worked out this is by text message.”
They can also communicate using the National Relay Service, an Australian Government initiative
“I knew my journey would be difficult”
which helps people who are deaf, hearing-impaired or speech-impaired make and receive phone calls.
Visa Global Logistics’ Onetrack app is installed on Samsung tablets in each of the company’s trucks. Onetrack is proving valuable in many aspects of the company’s daily operations, and is an effective way to inform Candice about the work allocated to her each morning.
Candice says the most helpful workplace adjustment has simply been making people at the sites she visits aware of her limitations, “so people know how to approach me and what to take into consideration”. She loves the pink high-visibility shirt she wears and believes it helps people recognise her and remember she doesn’t hear them.
At the end of her shift she likes to practice driving B-doubles and other combinations around the yard. She has even had an opportunity to train in Visa Global Logistics’ quad/quad Super B-double combination.
Keen to keep learning, Candice is now studying a Certificate IV in Driving Operations. She cherishes her job.
“I just want to thank Visa Global Logistics for their confidence in me and their support for this journey,” she says. “I look forward to seeing my lovely colleagues every morning and their wonderful personality is all the caffeine I ever need to kick-start the day.”
Working for Visa Global Logistics brings Candice personal satisfaction and provides financial security for her two children, aged 12 and 15.
“People know how to approach me”
Candice Lureman behind the wheel of a Volvo from the Pilbara Heavy Haulage Girls fleet
Visa Global Logistics specialises in international freight forwarding
Laurence Pilgrim, Candice Lureman, Scott Walker and Michael Punter. The Visa Global Logistics team supports Candice’s endeavours to advance her trucking career
Truckie Candice Lureman (right) with her mentor Heather Jones, CEO of Pilbara Heavy Haulage Girls
Candice Lureman and Heather Jones (left) enjoy a day out at the 2017 Brisbane Truck Show
Candice undertakes training with Visa Global Logistics quad/quad super B-double combination
Candice Lureman loves driving a 2012 Mercedes Benz Actros 2648 for Visa Global Logistics