A transport all-rounder has been recognised as someone well-placed to comment on what’s needed to improve the representation of First Nations people in the trucking industry.
National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee (NAIDOC) week celebrations are held across Australia each July to celebrate history, culture and achievements.
Peta Gowans, a transport specialist at Kelvin Baxter Transport, was named a 2021 Diversity Champion by the Australian Trucking Association and transport telematics provider, Teletrac Navman.
“As a First Nations person, NAIDOC week is very important to me,” said Gowans. “We’re the oldest surviving culture in Australia and it’s important that the industry recognises the significance of this event. For the last few years, I’ve come to work in my Koori colours during NAIDOC week. Being able to express and celebrate that at work has been really important to me.”
As a 2021 Driving Change Diversity Champion, Gowans hopes to demonstrate the benefits of maintaining a diverse workforce and the important career paths available within industry.
Setting an example of inclusiveness and the benefits of bringing innovative ideas to the task at hand, Gowans is the first point of contact at Kelvin Baxter Transport. Gowans’ role and capability in the business spans across a range of areas, from administration and Human Resources to operations support and driver training.
“I’d like to see more First Nations people in the industry too,” said Gowans.
“We have a real opportunity to get more of our community involved in trucking and transport, staying connected to the land with farm work and driving roles.
“Land is also fundamental for First Nations people, both physically and spiritually. This year’s NAIDOC week theme is all about recognising, protecting and maintaining our culture and heritage. When it comes to the transport industry, we’ve got trucks driving and people working on the land, and I feel a real connection to the land at work. But there’s more education needed for drivers and businesses to understand what land they’re on, and how to protect and treat it with respect.”
Diversity can reportedly play a major role in creating positive workplaces, increase productivity and provide employers access to a greater range of talent.
“It’s not about changing the whole industry in one go,” said Gowans. “First Nations people have been fighting to prove our land ownership for so long, we know the importance of small steps. Even though we wish change would happen overnight, it doesn’t. Small steps are better than no steps.”