Asixa to provide insight into fatality impacts

By: Ruza Zivkusic-Aftasi


Company will shine light on pressures and responses following tragedy involving sub-contractor

Asixa to provide insight into fatality impacts
John McMillan’s firm came under close scrutiny

Victorian freight provider Asixa, which is still recovering from last month’s accident that rocked its operations, wants to share its experience with the industry.

A family of four was killed at Catani when Asixa’s sub-contractor Jobandeep Gill allegedly failed to obey a stop sign and give way to an entering vehicle.

The company will be speaking at the Victorian Transport Association’s (VTA) annual conference next month in a bid to educate the industry about its experience with police, media attention, operational recovery, customer perception and staff welfare.

Gill is charged with four counts of culpable driving causing death, four counts of dangerous driving causing death, one count of reckless conduct endangering life and one count of failing to stop at a stop sign.

He is due to attend a committal hearing next month.

Asixa Director John McMillan, who has steered the company since 1995, says the business has come out "squeaky clean" following police investigations.

"I think the main message that we have learnt and that we want to share with people was that the chain of responsibility is very serious and it seems to have no end," McMillan says.

"In this case, the guy who had the accident was a genuine contractor; he was contracted through another company.

"We, as a company, have come under very close scrutiny to make sure all our procedures were above board and that we were doing our bit in the chain of responsibility."

"That was probably the big learning – we always knew of the chain of responsibility but I don’t think we understood just how serious and how far reaching it was.

"The second major learning was when the police came putting us under the microscope – they’re not interested in discussions, they’re interested in evidence.

"They want evidence all the time and luckily we were able to provide all of that evidence to them."

The company was investigated for driver induction and licencing, vehicle maintenance, driver behaviour, drugs and alcohol, fatigue and management, its contractors and payment records.

Some of its customers expressed concern about the impact the crash would have on the company’s image.

The company tried to keep them informed at all times despite incorrect media reports.

"In the early days, we had a few of our customers ring up and be concerned about what the impact might be but I don’t think our brand has been affected," McMillan says.

"It was a sobering experience for everybody and I think staff has had an introspective look at themselves – that’s what I’d like to believe and that’s what I think has happened."

He says the accident has made a severe impact on staff productivity, with many of them offered counselling.

McMillan is urging operators to seek professional help when dealing with media at crisis, saying many companies don’t have the knowledge or skills to do so.

"Reputation is like a bank account – top it up before a crisis hits," he says.

The one-stop-shop company provides overnight delivery to regional Victoria and the southern Riverina, specialising in automotive tyre deliveries, plumbing supplies, retail goods and electrical components.

With most work outsourced to sub-contractors, Asixa has around 300 customers on its database, of which 100 are regulars.

It is based in Pakenham.

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