At 37 weeks pregnant, Sydney truck driver Aleisha Welch will soon hang up her boots to begin maternity leave and embark on her next adventure as a new mum.
Welch works for Australian Native Landscapes (ANL), driving a truck and dog around Sydney. Her love of being behind the wheel, coupled with a supportive employer, have enabled her to continue doing a job she loves.
She began her career as a service advisor, a role she carried out for seven years. But wanting something more, she found a job as a labourer – and it was here that her passion for trucks ignited. “I got my MR licence so I could drive the tool trucks and they commented on how good I was at reversing into the yard and that sort of thing. I’d see the truck and dogs come onto site and the aggies.”
From there Welch moved on to tippers, and eventually progressed to driving truck and dogs, which she has been doing for the past year – with the last six months spent at ANL.
“I wanted to drive something bigger. With the smaller trucks, I didn’t feel like I was really driving a truck,” Welch says. Having sub-contracted to ANL through her previous employer, she was offered a job at the company’s Badgerys Creek yard.
“When I fell pregnant it was just after Christmas, and then we had that really bad rain in NSW, so I had no work for weeks. I was starting to worry about saving money before I had to have time off. ANL knew I was pregnant when they offered me the job, so I was pretty lucky.”
Welch joined ANL in March and hasn’t looked back. “I just love how every day is different. You don’t get bored. When I go into the yards, most of the time, everyone is so friendly and willing to talk to you and give you a hand,” she says.
Having soldiered on through morning sickness, migraines, back pain and all that comes with pregnancy, Welch hasn’t taken a single sick day.
But being a woman in trucking hasn’t been without its challenges. “When I first started with ANL, I didn’t tell the other drivers that I was pregnant, so when I had morning sickness I had to just suck it up, which was difficult. I had some really rough nights but never took a day off. The fatigue was also quite hard, but I’ve managed pretty well,” says Welch.
“The guys at work think I’m going to give birth in the truck. They keep saying I’ve got to stop, which is a little bit frustrating because I know my body and what I’m capable of. This is all normal to me. I’m just working and doing what I know. A lot of people are already quite shocked when they see a female driving a truck, then you add in a pregnant female driving a truck.
“There’s definitely still sexism, that’s for sure, but I honestly don’t know why. I can’t see why a female can’t do what a man can do. Sexism still happens in trucking, even in today’s times.”
When we spoke with Welch, she was 37 weeks pregnant and about to begin her maternity leave, finishing up at the end of September. Her and her husband are very much looking forward to embarking on their adventure into parenthood. “I think it’ll be an amazing experience,” she says. “I want to be a stay at home mum for a little while, but I don’t think I could stay away from the truck forever. When the baby comes, if it’s hard to get it to sleep, I might have to bring the baby to work to listen to the rumble of the engines.”