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Truckers line up on Mid North Coast to highlight growing mental health ‘crisis’ in essential industry

About 100 trucks were transported from Woolgoolga on NSW’s Mid North Coast to Coffs Harbour today, raising awareness of the mental health crisis affecting truck drivers across the country.

Lifeline North Coast Ambassador and Convoy Organizer Eno Taylor said he was impressed by the number of drivers who signed up and participated in the Grinding Gears and Burning Diesel movement.

“It couldn’t be a better day. The participants are absolutely amazing,” he said.

Taylor said the situation for track divers has deteriorated over the years.

“We’re in a bit of a crisis phase when it comes to the mental health of truck drivers,” he said.

“The stats are not very good at the moment.”

Lifeline Ambassador Eno Taylor hosted the first Convoy event in 2021.(ABC Coffs Coast: Indiana Hansen)

According to a recent Monash University study, suicide has become the second leading cause of death for truck drivers under the age of 30.

We also found that 1 in 5 drivers suffer from severe psychological distress. That’s almost twice as much for an Australian man of his age.

convoy for change

Taylor organized the first convoy last year to commemorate two Coffs Coast truck drivers who committed suicide on the Coffs Coast. Among them were his close friend and colleague Mark Haynes, 52, and Tom Secom, 29, who ran the KT Haulage shipping company.

Seccombe’s sister, Brooke Seccombe, said the death of her brother, whom she had loved all her life, was a surprise.

“He lived and breathed his whole life on the track, it was his passion,” she said.

“No one expected it to happen, but that’s why we’re here today — to try to spread the word.

“Even if it saves one life, whatever it is, it’s worth it.”

Brook Sekom standing in front of the truck with no expression on his face
Brooke Secom says the track was his brother’s “proud and joy”.(ABC Coffs Coast: Indiana Hansen)

Secom, who is also a truck driver, said the transportation industry can be incredibly isolating for many drivers.

“The transportation industry is tough,” she said.

“The drivers drive up to 6,000 kilometers a week in their trucks, so they have no one to talk to.

“They load and unload, but you drive alone all day and all night. Just in your thoughts.”

Ms Seccombe wasn’t the only one who wanted the convoy to be the cause of change.

Mental decline due to long working hours

Taylor believes that a variety of factors, including the loss of friendships between co-workers, contribute to drivers’ poor mental health.

“It doesn’t seem to have that community spirit. [like] I used to be a truck driver,” he said.

“There are fewer truck stops, especially between Sydney and Brisbane, which is almost straight without a stop.

“Many truck drivers are forced to park on the side of the road or at small truck stops without proper facilities.”

Taylor said there was a lot of pressure and deadlines on top of leaving home.

“That’s why I made the decision to get off the road and stop driving line hauls because I wanted to spend more time with my family and have more of a lifestyle,” he said.

“It was a real game changer for my mental health.”

Mom watching a truck pass by
Taylor says there are no easy answers to solving the mental health crisis facing truckers.(ABC Coffs Coast: Indiana Hansen)

Taylor said it was important to “prepare the scene for truck drivers” who continue to do important work.

“Trucks are our lifeline in Australia, getting food from Melbourne to Brisbane to Perth,” he said.

“With the National Heavy Vehicle Regulators’ current focus on the health and mental health of truck drivers, I think we will see some changes in the next few years.”

People looking at a row of trucks
Family and friends gathered at the finish line in Coffs Harbor to honor the lives lost and show their support for the industry.(ABC Coffs Coast: Indiana Hansen)

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-11-12/trucks-convoy-for-mental-health-mid-north-coast/101629020 Truckers line up on Mid North Coast to highlight growing mental health ‘crisis’ in essential industry

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