Taking a local approach that brings drivers, owners, government agencies and local councils together to identify and address specific transport safety concerns has been so successful in a regional corner of Australia that the safe freight network model is being rolled out nationally.

Partnerships between industry members and the wider community, like the Gippsland Safe Freight Network, offer a significant opportunity to improve the safety, productivity and wellbeing of the transport industry. In addition to improving safety for the local industry and community and engaging key stakeholders, the benefits of such partnerships include:

  • shared resources;
  • access to broader networks, differing skill sets and a wealth of information and data;
  • sharing of knowledge, information and practices;
  • improved industry efficiency and quality of industry outcomes; and
  • shared risk.

Since 2010, this model has proven extremely effective in providing accurate information about safer systems of operations as well as changing the culture of workplaces to ensure that safety becomes embedded in the businesses.

In essence, a road safety network is a simple process designed to engage those people who can contribute and are willing to learn from each other, with the focus being on the issue of safety.

The major outcome of Safe Freight has been the development of local round table safety networks with a major focus on and investment by individuals and companies in developing safer systems for their drivers. Local initiatives have been effective in supporting other road users, such as near-miss reporting systems that support drivers by improving capturing of their on-road experiences.

The essential safety network invite list:

  • Local highway patrol police: Police are at the frontline, are well aware of emerging issues and often are the only people who work with all industry types, making their insight invaluable. They are usually happy to help but have no other avenue to effect change.
  • Major industry groups: Ideally from each industry type; in Gippsland this includes livestock, mining, general freight, log and grain cartage, fertiliser and fuel.
  • Local, State and Federal Government: Many issues cut across the three levels of Government and having these people available to discuss options is extremely useful.
  • Road managers: Partnering with road owners and managers ensures the needs of all parties are met before issues arise.
  • Road safety experts: Often found locally if you look, these people often have access to resources for initiatives or expertise to help address specific problems identified.
  • A facilitator: A ‘go-to’ person is essential. The role is essentially to facilitate and organise meetings, set agendas and provide minutes and task sheets as determined by the membership.
  • Local Government: Local councils must have a seat at the table but must also allocate time to support the safe and efficient movement of goods and services through a local government area.

John Ernst, the executive officer of South Gippsland Safe Freight Network and project manager for Safe Freight Networks Australia, will be joining the NRSPP for a webinar on “Conversations About Safety In The Heavy Freight Industry”. This webinar is free and will be hosted at 2pm on 20 February 2018. John’s background is in community development work and has had a keen interest in road safety since the beginning of his professional career in rural Victoria 1987. John has extensive experience in developing community-based programs to address specific issues. He also managed one of the first L2P learner driver mentor programs. John has a degree from RMIT and is also an adult trainer specialising in remote area first aid and developing safe systems on large cattle stations.

For more information on Building Partnerships, Developing Networks, and the Gippsland Safe Freight Network, see:

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