Driver institute opened
Pilbara Heavy Haulage Girls are starting a national heavy vehicle driver institute.
The institute will be the first of its kind in Australia and will teach truck drivers new to the industry essential skills for the job.
Aiming to be up and running in the next few months, the traineeship already has 500 people on its waiting list.
PHHG chief executive Heather Jones said the institute was a preparation for life in the transport industry.
“At the moment when you get your licence there’s no training after that, so your licence ultimately gives you the part to steer the truck and that’s it, but everything behind it you have to learn on the job,” she said.
“(People will learn about) changing a tyre, chaining a load down, how to get the weights right on your axles — because if you don’t get your weights right it damages the road and there’s huge fines for the drivers that you have to pay and you don’t even know about when you get your licence.”
PHHG works to encourage and support women taking up heavy vehicle driving careers, but the training will be open to males and females starting out in the transport industry.
During his visit to Karratha at the beginning of this month, Minister for Regional Development Terry Redman announced $290,310 of funding for PHHG to fit out a training room and for operations.
The funding is part of the Pilbara Development Commission’s Pilbara Cities Economic Diversification Fund.
PDC acting chief executive Trish Barron said the institute would have many benefits for Karratha.
“Karratha is a practical environment to train drivers and allows them to gain the experience, skills and knowledge needed in the heavy vehicle industry and workforce,” she said.
“Locating the institute in Karratha will leverage expertise from the local workforce, while also creating new jobs and attracting students to the region.”
LandCorp has given PHHG a leased block in Gap Ridge and Volvo Group Australia has donated two new trucks for the institute.
“It’s nearly a million dollars worth of equipment, so they can see the benefit in what we’re doing,” Ms Jones said.
Mr Redman and Pilbara MP Brendon Grylls gave a new vehicle a spin during a site visit.
“It was so lovely because it was obviously a while since they’ve driven and these are beautiful, stateof-the-art, fully automatic, amazing machines,” Ms Jones said.
She said she appreciated the support from Mr Grylls and Mr Redman, who both have their truck licences. “When you’re talking to someone who understands what’s needed you don’t have to bash your head — you actually have someone who understands one, the problem we’ve had, and two, that this is the solution to the problem.”
Minister for Regional Development Terry Redman and Pilbara Heavy Haulage Girls chief executive Heather Jones. Picture: Tom Zaunmayr