EPA VIC to extend $6.5M program to tackle local waste issues

The Victorian EPA has extended its more than $6.4 million Officers for the Protection of the Local Environment (OPLE) pilot project for 13 council areas.

The program gives councils on-the-spot access to EPA capabilities and aims to build upon the EPA’s relationships with local governments to enable faster identification and resolution of smaller-scale waste issues.

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It will now run for an additional seven months until 31 July 2019 to address issues such as dust, odour, waste dumping and stockpiling, littering and noise pollution.

OPLEs began training in September 2017 and have responded to 355 incident reports and completed 299 inspections as of 30 June 2018.

The councils selected include Port Philip, Casey, Greater Dandenong, Wyndham, Surf Coast, Mildura, Greater Shepparton, Wodonga, Loddon, Buloke, Central Goldfields, Brimbank and Hobsons Bay.

Waste dumping and stockpiling was a concern in Mildura while sediment run-off and littering at new residential housing developments was a focus for OPLES in Surf Coast, Wyndham, Shepparton and Wodonga.

EPA CEO Nial Finegan said the program allowed expertise to be shared between EPA and councils to make a difference to issues that affected local amenity and liveability the most.

“We’ve received great feedback from councils and residents about the impact the OPLEs are having,” he said.

“At its core, the project is about creating meaningful change on a local level and using education to drive compliance.

“We will not shy away, however, from imposing sanctions when proactive measures are not effective and environmental and public health is put at risk. And by partnering with councils, a greater range of sanctions are available to address all aspects of an issue.

Mr Finegan said the program was identified through the Independent Inquiry into the EPA.

“By addressing smaller problems, we can stop them becoming bigger problems,” he said.

“Protecting Victoria’s environmental and public health is everyone’s responsibility.

“We’re committed to empowering Victorians to become environmental leaders, in their homes, communities and businesses, and the OPLE project is a key part of that.”

Volvo backs new program for women drivers

The first Superior Heavy Vehicle Licensing (SHVL) program for women will be delivered in partnership between Wodonga TAFE’s Transport Division DECA, Transport Women Australia Limited (TWAL) and Volvo Group.

The program has been created to help women qualify for their heavy vehicle licence. Volvo will supply a prime mover for the four-week intensive training course designed to provide students with behind-the-wheel experience.

By encouraging female drivers to participate in the course, DECA was looking at a solution to address the driver shortage across the road transport sector.

At the recent Transport Women Australia Conference in Canberra, Women Driving Transport Careers was launched. Offered in Metropolitan Melbourne, the course will be arranged in conjunction with Volvo Group Australia Driver Academy.

Simon Macaulay, National Manager Transport at DECA, said the training will assist females obtain a high demand skill for which to fast-track their entrance into the heavy transport workforce.

“We provide participants with the industry standard skills and know-how. We take them through areas that are barely mentioned in a lot of licence instruction, such as safety protocols and health and safety procedures, road maps, fatigue management, chain of responsibility and use of technology,” Macauley said.

Volvo Group Australia has found the average age of truck drivers in Australia is 47. Meanwhile 52 per cent of employers, according to its research conducted in 2016, struggle to attract the quantity of drivers needed and 46 per cent are already experiencing a shortage of available drivers.

President and CEO of Volvo Group Australia Peter Voorhoeve said the company is working hard to attract new and more diverse talent into the heavy transport sector.

“Australia is standing on the precipice of a serious truck driver shortage, the effects of which will be felt far beyond the transport industry. If the industry does not find ways to attract more drivers to the industry, we will all feel the pain in higher prices for the things that trucks move up and down our highways – food, clothing, construction materials, medical supplies and consumer goods to name just a few.

“As the leading manufacturer of trucks in Australia, we take our role in the industry seriously, which is why we are constantly looking for new ways to grow the heavy transport sector workforce and champion greater diversity in the driver workforce.”

(Image: 2017 Volvo Truck Challenge finalist Kerri Connors).