Industry veteran Alina Hawkins recently accepted the prestigious Woman of the year award at TA23. She talks to ATN about the award, her career in livestock transport and hopes for the future of trucking in Australia.
Chief Operating Officer for the Livestock and Rural Transporters Association of Victoria (LRTAV) Alina Hawkins recently had the honour of receiving the National Trucking Industry Woman of the Year accolade at the Trucking Australia 2023 conference hosted by the Australian Trucking Association (ATA).
Hawkins stayed humble during the ceremony, quickly giving credit to her family and support network.
“It was a fantastic opportunity to attend Trucking Australia 2023 and I am overjoyed with the Cummins sponsored accolade of National Trucking Industry Woman of the Year.
“I am grateful for the nomination and feel very honoured to represent the livestock industry which I am very passionate about.
“I couldn’t have achieved what I have over the past 20 years without my husband and two children and my extended family & friends,” Hawkins says.
Hawkins was nominated for the award by the Australian Livestock & Rural Transporters Association that called her an excellent role model for women in trucking and a passionate advocate for the transport industry, especially rural trucking.
The ALRTA also noted that Alina is respected for her experience in, and grass roots knowledge of rural trucking and her ability to apply strategic thinking to policy development.
Hawkins has over 20 years of experience in interstate transport and has been affiliated with the LRTAV for many years whilst operating her livestock transport business, Hawkins Stock Transport, which she runs with her husband Kain.
The LRTAV is the Victorian peak rural transport industry body for businesses who provide the first and last link of the supply chain for the state’s agricultural industries.
“My role involves a lot of behind the scenes work to ensure government policies and regulations are realistic for our industry and designed to support safety and productivity.
“I look forward to using my industry knowledge to assist our membership into the future,” Hawkins says.
Key areas of interest that Hawkins plans to focus on for the association include:
- implementing national ramp standards
- creating a higher productivity vehicle network throughout Victoria for both livestock and bulk haulage
- education on the national penning density guidelines and its use as the livestock loading standard
- developing a national truck wash minimum standard
- ensuring we have quality professional drivers behind the wheel by removing barriers to entry to the industry
- ensuring we have adequate driver amenities throughout all states for both male and female drivers.
As Chief Operating Officer of the LRTAV Hawkins regularly liaises with the ALRTA which represents around 700 transport businesses nationally including owner-drivers, small fleet operators and large fleet operators with hundreds of trucks and trailers.
The ALRTA works with the federal government, industry groups, community organisations, regulators and the media to ensure that rural trucking is protected and promoted as a sustainable, responsible and safe contributor to rural and regional Australia and our primary industries.
Hawkins says her current role and career is what she was born to do.
“I have always had a love of the transport industry.
“After completing year 12, worked in administration with two large interstate transport businesses, Roadmaster Haulage, NSW and Nolans Interstate Transport, QLD where I learnt many aspects of running a transport business.
“I will be forever grateful to the late Terry Nolan for introducing me to my now husband all those years ago,” Hawkins says.
In 2005 Hawkins obtained her heavy vehicle licence to learn to cart cattle. This followed by plenty of hours of mentored on the job training to ensure she was competent in all the jobs required for livestock transport. This included loading and unloading, driving according to all conditions, changing a tyre, rewiring a trailer plug and the most important job of washing out.
“Over the years I have enjoyed every aspect of livestock transport from operations and administration right through to the truck driving and the challenges that come with being a female in a male dominated industry.
“As I became more involved in the rural transport sector, I was able to grow and adapt to most situations. Life is all about your attitude, nothing in life is ever easy but doing a job you love makes life easier,” Hawkins says.
Hawkins says she would love nothing more than to see more young people, women in particular, join the rural transport industry and argues that it has much to offer.
“I have found plenty of amazing people in rural and remote communities that have become friends for life.
“I have crossed paths with many instrumental women in transport that have had a profound influence on my ability to navigate this ever-changing industry.
“I’ve also appreciated the support of the incredible men that I have worked with over the years who have been willing to show me the ropes whenever I found myself in an unfamiliar situation,” Hawkins says.
Hawkins now has two children that are growing up in and around the business, seeing all aspects of the industry including the good and the bad. But they’re still keen to eventually join the industry themselves.
Hawkins says she is happy to encourage her children to experience the lifestyle.
“Australia is an amazing country to travel around, and livestock transport has given me the opportunity to see every corner of it and realise what nature has to offer.
“Trucking is a fabulous lifestyle and once you are hooked it’s hard to walk away,” Hawkins says.
Hawkins says she wasn’t expecting the nomination to ATA’s National Trucking Industry Woman of the Year as she usually prefers to do behind the scenes work. But once she got her head around the fact, she was incredibly grateful to be able to accept the award.
“It is a true honour to be thought of in the same light as the incredible industry women before me like Phyllis Jones, Sharon Middleton & Liz Schmidt who, over the course of my career in the livestock transport industry, I have looked on as role models.”
Hawkins says her aim within the scope of her role in the Association is to improve the public perception of rural trucking and present positive stories about the transport industry.
“We are normal people, mostly mums and dads just trying to do a job we love and get home safely to our families.”