One in five drivers have battled mental illness: TWU survey

Union to launch new initiative that will highlight mental health issues in trucking

One in five drivers have battled mental illness: TWU survey
Tony Sheldon says 918 out of 4,000 truck drivers surveyed admit they have experienced mental health issues.


The Transport Workers’ Union (TWU) plans to launch an initiative in association with Beyond Blue to tackle the subject of mental health in the transport industry.

The union says its initiative will involve encouraging employers and clients to develop workplace policies on mental health.

Highlighting the results of its recent Safe Rates Survey 2017, the union states that 918 out of 4,000 truck drivers surveyed admitted they experienced mental health issues.

"There are many reasons why transport workers are more vulnerable than other professions to mental health problems: long hours away from family and the stresses that puts on relationships; low pay and poor working conditions; and in the case of truck drivers, high injury and fatality rates," TWU national secretary Tony Sheldon says.

"This initiative will seek to provide support to those living with mental health problems but also to make recommendations on what needs to be done to tackle them."

A previous study found that truck drivers have a seven per cent higher than average chance of developing depression than other workers in Australia.

The union says suicide rates are also high among truckies, with an earlier study by Deakin University showed 323 drivers committed suicide between 2001 and 2010.

Additionally, an analysis by the Victorian coroner’s court shows truck drivers had the "highest number of suicides out of any other profession, with 53 drivers taking their own lives between 2008 to 2014", the TWU states. 

The union is opposed to federal government’s plan to cut funding for union-employer training programs that currently also focus on the subject of mental health.

"It is appalling to see the federal government moving to shut down mental health programmes linked with training funds as part of its ideological opposition to a co-operative approach between companies and employees,"

TWU’s new initiative will be discussed by the at the union’s National Council meeting in Fremantle this week.

Meanwhile, representatives of the union will hold a protest in South Fremantle tomorrow to highlight the issue of driver safety.

WA Senator Glenn Sterle is expected to address those present at the rally.

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