Dianne Carroll, CEO - Trans-Help Foundation - 22nd
Man Australia continues to interview people who are
making a positive difference in the world, despite
the challanges they have had to overcome.
is your background?
have been around trucks since as far back as I can
recall, as my father was an interstate truck driver.
My first memory of actually being in a truck is vague,
but I was about 4 years old and I went with my father
and mother and younger sister (6 mths old) on a trip
to Adelaide in the truck. I recall a bed was made
up for my sister on the cabin floor... this was around
grandfather and uncle also had trucks, so transport
was part of life.
recall mum doing everything, from chopping wood to
mowing the lawns to under the bonnet fixing cars,
not to mention caring for her 6 children. She did
was about 8 when Dad gave away interstate driving,
and he done more local driving. He liked a beer and
would sometimes become very abusive, with mum copping
the brunt of it. He often would come home and say
we are moving, so mum would pack up our belonging
and us six children and we would move overnight!.
(When mum died aged 55, she had had 99 shifts during
her married life)
the education I received was limited and life at home
was tough, so at the age of 13 I left home, I was
placed in foster care before going to live with my
grandparents. When I was 14 I returned home for my
mothers sake. When I returned I never went back
to school so that was the extent of my formal
I was 15 I met Gary, who was also a truck driver,
with his family had generations in the logging industry.
We were engaged when I was 16, married at 17.
a Truckies wife, I soon found out they marry their
truck and you go along for the ride. It was tough,
plenty of bills, little money and a lot of loneliness.
After the arrival of our first child, thing got pretty
tough in the logging Industry, so we had to put the
truck on interstate. Gary was born and bred in the
bush, so city streets and national highways were not
his forte. I left my son with my parents and I went
on the road with him, to navigate!
was tough, I remember we would be getting close to
Melbourne and I was excited to be going home, then
when we got to the depot we were advised there was
a load waiting to go back to Brisbane. I would cry
till we got to about Seymour.
would wait months for payments and the finance company
was hounding us for payments, which was couldnt
make until we got paid. In the end we decided they
would have to repossess the truck. Garys father
came to the rescue and took over the truck and the
payments. So Gary went driving for his father.
the time I was 23 I had had three children, and things
werent any easier, so we ended up separating.
I was in Melbourne with three young children and often
knocked on the door of the Salvos to ensure
my children were fed.
then met Peter, who had worked as a truck driver with
the CRB/Vic Roads. We had three children and Gary
On the 19th of Nov our local police officer rang asked
us to go down to the police station
it was then
I was told Gary had been killed at work.
couldnt understand why, as he was one of the
most sought after drivers, because he looked after
his truck and was 110% safety in every aspect of his
was later we were told that the night before his death
he had found out his wife was having an affair
this answered a lot of questions.. His mind was not
on the job!
wife refused to give our children the Christmas present
he had bought for them, nor their belongings or anything
of their fathers.
me I was devastated, as you dont forget all
those years that you were together and the pain in
my childrens hearts broke me. I remained strong
for them, and then started the 3 year court battle
for our kids.
they didnt get much, they got a small amount,
but we were able to stop her from getting the $1 million
she was trying to get and she only ended up with the
house and $13,000.
school of adversity had taught me a lot and I have
come a long way become a published author, regional
historian, genealogist,.web designer, IT consultant
and not a certificate to prove any of it.
are your aims and objectives?
To improve Road Safety Awareness and help to
emotionally support personnel and their families within
the Transport Industry.
Trans-Help Foundation intends to continue to raise
funds and support for people within the Transport
Industry, including their families. "
following Objectives as agreed by the Trans-Help Foundation
Liaise and negotiate with government departments on
a State and Federal level.
Sustain and develop further the current road safety
Establish a support network for the families.
Evaluate and disseminate examples of best practice
Encourage all road users to adopt safe driving initiatives
and respect other drivers.
Provide special events for the families.
Support and raise awareness of Truck Drivers Memorials.
Support our Sponsors.
Provide a Job Network for the Transport Industry
and why was the group formed?
2004, I approached my children to see if they wanted
their fathers name on the Australian Truck Drivers
they all said yes. So I contacted Garys
parents, as I wouldnt have done it without their
blessing and they were very supportive of the idea.
President of the Memorial Committee, Ron Pullen and
I had a mutual acquaintance, who had informed Ron
of what I do and have done for Community organisations
over 20 years. Ron and I were introduced and I started
assisting. I ended up taking the phone calls from
widows of drivers who had been killed within the industry.
was astounded to think that the industry had not changed
in 20 years, and I was on the phone, using my personal
experience to console these grieving families.
following October I attended the Memorial service
and there were all the people literally fighting for
a change to speak to me, and when they did they broke
down and conveyed how my phone calls had helped them
through their grief.
was then I knew that something was needed.
prepared the concept of what I believed was needed
to make a difference and showed it to several people
who thought it was brilliant, we then had a meeting
with Royans of Wagga Wagga, who immediately
came on board as the founding sponsor. We would never
have got it off the ground without their support.
have been the biggest challenges overcome?
Trans-Help has been a big challenge, but after just
12 months we believe we are 2 years ahead of where
we thought we would be. Along the journey we have
identified many concerns within the industry, and
the challenge ahead is to tackle each one to try and
make a difference.
have your biggest supporters to date?
many widows, who we have assisted, the truck drivers
who have contacted us with various problems, Royans
of Wagga Wagga, PPG, Camerons Transport, beyondblue,
Truckin Life and Trucks In Action.
transport companies are doing the right thing, and
what firms have much room for improvement?
matter which industry, there is always people who
do the wrong thing, and sadly within the transport
industry it is those few that are detrimental to the
entire industry. We are not here to name or shame
companies, but we have major concerns for those drivers
who employers leave them stranded interstate following
accidents, claiming no responsibility.
the governments reaction to this matter, and
date we have had no government support, and we have
not pursued in the interim, as we wanted to ensure
our structure and network of services were secure
and working, which they now are.
have no intent to step into the roll of political
debate but we will express our concerns when they
are effecting the wellbeing of the drivers and their
applied for the Gift Tax Deduction status, but because
we utilise secondary sources, we find were not eligible.
We are not prepared to loose lives or reject the urgent
need for some humanitarian needs to comply with the
criteria set to make us eligible.
WorkCover possess is a major concern, with many of
the interview being more like an interrogation, causing
additional depression, making the return to work process
longer than necessary. We also have anecdotal evidence
that injured workers, under the WorkCover system do
attempt to take their lives and a small percent are
is also evidence that drivers, and in the event of
fatalities, their families are not informed of their
entitlement i.e Workcover, with some employers
advising their drivers that because they are casual
they are not entitle to it
we have several cases
where this has been the case, and we have successfully
obtained WorkCover payments for them. In other cases,
the widows have not been informed that they are entitled
to a death benefit.
also want the government to address the fact that
transport accidents on our roads are infact work
place accidents and should be investigated as
such. Currently these accidents are classified under
the road toll, elevating the local, state and federal
of responsibility. Local governments are screaming
for more funding for local roads, they need to get
being us to make these changes and then the government
would have no choice but to increase local funding.
media attention have you attracted to date?
Life have been our primary supporter/sponsor, Overnight
Express do talk back each week, as does Nicci at Truck
Radio. 5AA has also allowed talkback. Several local
papers have published stories, but the main media
their focus is the impact stuff
like a fatality. They publish the details and photographs
with no consideration to the impact it has on the
already grieving family.
are not interested in the fact that we are out there
saving lives and being a lifeline to many families
who are suffering from the side effects of the industry.
state that 75% of transport accidents which involve
cars are caused by the car, not the truck
do you know that your making a positive difference?
have assisted well over 150 transport families since
our official launch in September; five of these cases
have been the prevention of 5 potential suicides
we are defiantly making a positive difference
are your current projects?
We are currently establishing an Employee Assistance
Program to offer to companies
We are structuring a Road Trauma Response Package
model within the Wagga Wagga district, which will
then be offered to other regions to implement.
We have established the National Emergency Database
known as NED, which records the emergency details
of all members, including if they have a will, their
Superannuation fund, their employers emergency contact
We are working with beyondblue to establish a workplace
program based on depression within the transport industry.
When will you know that your efforts have been worthwhile?
We receive many words of appreciation,
and when it gets tough I read the following text message
which I received at 7.30 am on Australia Day.... I
must admit it bought me to tears, but it is the message
that inspires me every day to ensure the THF succeeds,
no matter what the hurdles.
"Hi Dianne, I didn't see your name on the honour
board but any 1 who would give up her time for truck
drivers should be given the highest order of them
all lady. Was talking 2 an ex driver last night at
tea & couldn't tell ya his name but he praised
you for the help given by u. He stopped & we had
tea at West Wylong. He and his wife were off on a
holiday that they never had. He told me he was going
to end it 8 mths ago & 1 phone call woke him up,
thanks to transhelp.
our first case, which we invited Phil to our official
here is his speech and following is comments
he also made to me, which I proceeded his speech with.
name is Phil Maple, I used to be a truck driver..
was the driver of a 12 ton rigid from Brisbane through
to Bowen. I had a bit of an accident up outta Cohen,
50 minutes north of Mackay, Nth Qld. I rolled the
truck four times at 100km on the 24th Aug 2005.
got banged up pretty bad, sustaining multiple injuries
and having to be kick started twice. I went to the
café upstairs twice, it had a sign saying back
in 15 minutes, guess they had other plans for
it was the first night for me with this company, the
manager at the time came with me to show me what was
to be done. So we were 2 up driving, he escaped the
accident with 25 stiches to his leg apparently and
was discharged from Mackay hospital the same day.
From that day to this I have never heard from him,
guess he has his own demons to deal with.
far as the company goes, the only time I have heard
from them was 2 months ago, an office girl seeking
my address to send me my group certificate
Fantastic support NOT!
not here tonight looking for sympathy or pity, as
that is not me.
am hoping by being here and you hearing what a ride
this has been for me, maybe you and I can improve
the circumstances of drivers going through or unfortunately
about to go through similar horrific situations that
the humiliation, the vulnerability,
loneliness, depression, lack of moral and emotional
support, the suicidal thoughts and the social isolation.
You might say what an exaggeration, Im sorry
no! It is the reality of the situation I faced and
to a certain extent what I still face.
guess Im lucky my own strong will and in the
clear light of day not really wanting to die has kept
got very desperate one night and I rang a radio station
in Sydney and asked for a friend. Fortunately a lady
truck driver named Betty was listening and rang me.
She drives for Toll on contract to Woolworths out
of Minchinbury, NSW. Finally there was someone from
the industry who knew what I was going through and
could relate to all this as she was in the industry.
It was exactly what I needed, someone to understand,
we remain in contact to this day.
May, this year, whilst reading Truckin Life, I saw
an article about a foundation newly formed, which
was aiming to assist drivers and their families in
situations similar to mine.
thought Thank God! Not that I am religious. I decided
to contact them and offer my assistance in any way
so maybe some other driver could be
saved from the stress and crap that my journey has
taken me through.
was after the story in Truckin Life that I found my
self in a situation where I needed desperate assistance.
I contacted the Trans-Help Foundation as I had no
where else to turn. Within 20 minutes the Trans-Help
Foundation had every resource in place for me to be
helped. I wasnt humiliated in any way for asking
for help, I was treated like a human being, which
was kinda nice for a change.
that same day, just out of the blue, I got a call
from a fellow named Rick Lay, also from the Trans-Help
Foundation. Just making sure I was OK.
is a truckie on the road himself and again he had
been through a horrific circumstance too and knew
where my ride had taken me.
Trans-Help Foundation has been so encouraging. I have
started to feel confident. Believe me, the Trans-Help
Foundation has been there though some of my darkest
moments, even though they will probably never realise
it. Knowing that the Trans-Help Foundation is just
a phone call away, I am finally starting to feel safe
has amazed me is they were not trying to blow their
own trumpet or being FIG JAM, these are just genuine
real people assisting others in real situations. Situations
they have experienced and knew how to deal with it
and inspiring other people to further help themselves.
would like to thank the Trans-Help Foundation for
the assistance given to me. I would also like to thank
Truckin Life for their care and support in telling
and Gentlemen, I encourage you to form a partnership
with the Trans-Help Foundation, as you will be saving
lives by helping and supporting drivers and their
families out there who need it within the industry.
is through the inspiration of the assistance given
by the Trans-Help Foundation that has given me the
courage to speaking here tonight. If my story can
assist to make sure life is easier for any driver
when they encounter the unfortunate situation of trauma
it has been worth it.
you for taking the time to listen..
following is worth you reading.. these are notes that
Phil sent to me
Being told by the hospital after 7 days in intensive
care and 7 days in general ward that I was being discharged
and that I had to arrange my own flight back to Brisbane
Being told by the hospital that I had to arrange a
taxi to the airport, as no ambulance transport was
available. Fortunately a nurse contacted a Rotary
who had voluntary support and to me to the airport
at MacKay and seen me onto the plane. I slapped them
$20 donation for the help (they didnt want to
Having a letter from the surgeon at the hospital advising
airport security staff that I had a full back brace
so I could get through security. Not accepted and
they took me to an office where I had to strip off
so they could check. Totally humiliating.
Trying to fill out the WorkCover forms so I could
get a claim so I could see doctors etc in Brisbane
and get some money through. After several phone calls
and a lot of stress I was finally put in touch with
a person from WorkCover was able to assist me to ensure
it went through rapidly.
Seeing the neurosurgeon in Brisbane, his secretary
couldnt get hold of the rehab people at the
Prince Charles Hospital. So I was given the Drs name
and number to make my own appointment. After many
phone calls to an answering machine, I finally received
a call to advise me that I was unable to obtain an
appointment until March 2006. This was just great
why the hell was I kick started from the accident,
why couldnt I have been left to die. I relocated
to NSW to get Rehab there, 2 weeks after I shifted
I received a phone call from Qld to say they had a
cancellation and could fit me in
that was 3
months after my accident.
I was treated to a flogging by a person I trusted
who was drunk was all banged up, not long out of hospital
at the time, normal circumstances I would have put
this person on their arse, but due to the circumstances
I had to ring the police.
The police ended up assisting me to get me out of
the situation with my gear. I had no where else to
turn in Qld, so the police to me to a homeless mens
home in Brisbane, where I had to hand in my pain killers
and was only able to take them when a nurse was on
duty. I was frightened, depressed and really did want
to die. I was now amongst drug dealers, alcoholics,
con men and criminals
I just had to survive
I was there for 5 days, when friends in NSW became
aware of my situation and organised to get me to NSW.
In mid September opened their home to me, where I
stayed for the next 2 months until I got a unit. As
I was experiencing flash backs, lots of pain and walking
all hours of the night, I needed to be on my own so
I didnt disturb no one.
I was walking the streets til 1,2,3 oclock in
the morning here in Springwood, the pain was becoming
too much, the depression, anxiety, loneliness and
lack of support and a feeling of actual worthlessness
wanting to throw myself off the bridge here onto the
freeway or under a truck on the highway. Somehow I
got through wall this, I dont know how to this
day, but the fact I got through is all that matters.
Not opening up to the doctors about any of this for
fear of ending up in a Psych hospital and being forgotten
I made a conscious decision not to have any prescription
drugs in the unit so there was no temptation.
All the humiliation, vulnerability, depression I got
through, by myself proved useless in the end.. I was
a coward and I didnt want to die alone.. but
thanks to Betty and you and Rick, Dianne you have
all made me see lifes worth fighting for.
find out more contact:
CEO for the Trans-Help Foundation
03 56342060 or 0410 990 060