Women waste no time joining Resource Recovery

In 2021, Belinda Janson was the only female waste truck driver in Ipswich City Council’s Resource Recovery team.

Now, almost 10% of the team of 70 are women – and council isn’t stopping there.

Chief Executive Officer Sonia Cooper said she was proud that more women were joining council’s male-dominated fields such as resource recovery and construction, and hoped council’s initiatives to attract female employees would see these numbers continue to grow.

“As we celebrate International Women’s Day this week, it’s fantastic and timely that council is making progress in achieving greater representation of women in our resource recovery team,” Ms Cooper said.

“Waste and recycling collections are crucial services that council provide our community, and can only benefit from a more diverse workforce.

“In 2021 we applied for and were granted an exemption by the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission (QIRC) under the Anti-Discrimination Act to advertise for females only to be recruited for a training program, in a bid to increase the number of women in this part of our workforce.

“While there is still a way to go, I’m pleased that we are making progress in bridging this divide and the momentum continues towards gender parity.”

The ruling by QIRC meant council was exempt for three years from relevant sections of the Anti-Discrimination Act in relation to the advertising and recruitment of waste truck drivers.

However, this exemption was ultimately not required. Following the landmark ruling, council shared Belinda’s story online and through the media to raise awareness among women in the community.

This alone proved effective in encouraging women to come forward and apply for existing opportunities available.

With 10% of council’s resource recovery truck drivers now women, this profile featuring Belinda Janson – council’s only female waste truck driver back in 2021 – helped encourage more women to come forward and apply to join council’s team.

Read Belinda’s full story here: Council’s drive for change with court win

“I’m thrilled that more girls are getting on board,” Ms Janson said.

“I love this job, it’s good fun. There’s no reason at all that it can’t be done by different genders – it’s a job for everybody.

“The team here is great and no one makes you feel different or excluded as the ‘girl’, we all get along and respect each other.

“I’d say to anyone that is interested to give it a go. All of us girls love it!”

Liz Ketchup is one of the women who joined council as a waste truck driver after seeing Belinda’s story.

“I’ve worked as a truck driver for a long time but I hadn’t considered this as an option before,” Ms Ketchup said.

“I saw Belinda and how fun and positive she was about the job, and I thought I’d give it a crack.

“I love it, and I’ve even recruited my partner to join too.”

More recently, Kylie Frost joined the team in late 2023 and says her wellbeing has improved in all areas as a result.

“I used to work in an office before this, but I knew it wasn’t for me,” Ms Frost said.

“Even though I had my Heavy Rigid licence, I just couldn’t get jobs despite applying everywhere – no one would take me on.

“It could be that it was because I didn’t have any on-the-job experience yet, or maybe it was because I was female, or a combination of both.

“Council has taken me on and I am loving it – I’m gaining great experience and I haven’t looked back.

“Everything has changed since I started here. My health is better, I sleep better, I’ve lost weight. This has been so good for me and I love coming to work.”

As outlined in council’s submission to the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission, it has been demonstrated female drivers tend to have less driving related incidents and less serious WH&S matters related to driving incidents.

Similar initiatives previously taken by some large-scale mining and construction companies have found great success with female driver programs that show female truck drivers could help create a more inclusive and safer culture.

As the fastest-growing city in Queensland, Ipswich City Council is always looking for new team members to help deliver essential services.

Visit Ipswich.qld.gov.au/Careers for more information and to apply for vacancies currently available.

Ipswich City Council is operating under caretaker provisions in accordance with Chapter 3, Part 5 of the Local Government Act 2009. Media communications by the Mayor and Councillors as ICC spokespeople during this time are limited to ensure compliance with legislation and, equity and transparency between existing Mayor, Councillors and candidates regarding access to Council resources.

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