Trailer Magazine

Industry leader: Debra Kirk

  • Posted on Thursday 7th, November 2019.

Trailer Magazine met with Debra Kirk, Manager of Legislative Maintenance at the National Transport Commission. With a specific focus on dangerous goods, Debra has a driving ambition to see safety and productivity heightened in this vital sector of the industry.

What first drew you to the commercial road transport industry?
The chance to focus on all aspects of DG including transport, storage and handling, and to help demystify the rules to make it easier for people to understand them and to comply with them, which all leads to safer outcomes.

What does a standard day for you look like?
I normally start around 7:30 am and try to get a bit done before the office gets busy and the phones start.  Much of my day is spent answering queries from people in the industry, educating various stakeholders about the laws pertaining to the transport of DG, or working on reforms to the laws which aim for better safety and efficiency for the transport sector and to align our laws with the United Nations model regulations.

What has been a highlight for your career so far?
While there’s been a few, I would have to say mentoring the next generation of DG decision makers; and being part of Australia’s delegation to the United Nations Sub-Committee of Experts for the Transport of Dangerous Goods.

What is the best thing about the transport industry?
The diversity of roles in the industry. People tend to think of the transport industry as being made up mostly of truck drivers, but there are so many other roles and functions. I don’t think many fully appreciate that the industry employs people from such a wide range of fields, including sales and marketing, data analytics, warehousing, forklift drivers, truck drivers, mechanics, policy and compliance, project management, property management, and the list goes on.

What do you think could be improved?
Well, I think there’s still work to be done to reduce the compliance burden for the transport industry and to ensure the laws are not unnecessarily complex, as well as making sure they are actually working to improve safety, productivity and environmental outcomes as they’re intended to.
That is a large part of my job at the National Transport Commission.

What do female-driven events in commercial road transport mean to you?
While I see the need for them at the present time, I’m looking forward to a time when the thought of a female event or a male event seems like a foreign concept. I’d also like to see a change that to refer to a driver as a ‘female truck driver’ is socially unacceptable.
How can people and companies in the transport industry better promote it as a career choice for women?
I think we should be aiming to promote the industry as a great professional choice and highlighting the diversity  of roles that the industry has to offer.

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