Di Carroll, OEM is the CEO and founder of TransHelp Foundation.
Kermie: Hello Di, Is that a new truck from Iveco?
Di: Yep. This is the one they presented us with at the Brisbane truck Show. We've got a third coming in the next couple of weeks.
That is fantastic of Iveco to be so involved. So the first is still on the road?
Yep, and she's done a few miles I can tell you.
You can't drive three trucks!
Ha! This one's going to Queensland. Been talking to the Government up there regarding getting funding. The new one - we're hoping to place over in WA.
So you're really going national. You got people to drive them?
Not yet. We're actually going to be looking for teams to apply to run them for us in a voluntary capacity - as we all are. That's the way we operate until, and if, we can get some government funding.
You would've been chasing that ever since you started this hare-brained scheme wouldn't you?
You bet. But the wheels of government turn slowly, if at all. Without the support of Royans, Iveco, Cummins, Cat and others we'd be nowhere They've been fantastic to us. The $100,000 we won from AMEX via the Oprah Winfrey show helped enormously. That was a huge boost for the foundation. But we still don't have the major corporate or government backing. Still, the fact is we're out there saving lives, and you can't put a price on that.
The number of truck fatalities actually increased last year didn't it?
It did. We're probably picking up 50-60% of all those fatalities. Some have been quite horrific. We've now got a networks of widows which gives them communication with others going through the same grief, financial hardships and so forth. We've also found a lot of the teenagers who've lost their dads have been struggling - some to the extent of near-suicide. So we've now created a behind-the-scenes network for them as well. That's working really well.
How's the facility at Tarcutta going? That was originally a hospital wasn't it?
We've had numerous drivers, families, widows and children come there for respite. It's really making a difference.
So it was a worthwhile investment then?
We're still paying for it. But anyone who's utilised the service - and we've had guys who've been right at the end of their tether - after a week they've been changed people. To see that you can make that sort of impact and know they can get back to work a lot more quickly is just huge. That makes all our efforts worthwhile.
How many volunteers you got?
We always need more. Full time there's me and Peter and we've got volunteers in every state.
So you got people you can call on from right around the country now.
Yep. It's great. The online counselling is increasing dramatically as well. We're finding that the guys will talk through a keyboard where they won't pick up the phone.
That'd be a bit of out-of-hours work wouldn't it?
Oh yeah - 2 or 3 in the morning is not unusual. It's good that we can help them. Relationship problems are a big thing, as is the road trauma. We've just been fortunate enough to obtain a grant and we're in the midst of producing a truckies handbook. Hopefully we'll have that out by the end of the year. Things are happening everywhere.
Thinking of taking some time out?
You would be joking wouldn't you?
Yeah, sorry. Keep up the good work and thanks Di.
TransHelp can be contacted through www.transhelpfoundation.com.au
The national support line telephone number is 1300 787 996