Sharon gives back to trucking mates
"WE LOVE the industry, but it doesn't love us back.”
Those are the words of Sharon Hourn, a woman who is trying to do exactly that by giving back to her community and doing what she can for truck drivers.
Every Wednesday, and now Thursdays too, she jumps in her car and drives the 250km round trip from her home on a property near Swan Hill to the truck stop at Balranald to spend the day giving truckies free health checks.
"What I do is take their blood pressure and if they want I do their blood sugar too,” she said.
"They can't take their truck into a doctor's surgery and if they have a medical they have to take the whole day off.”
Sharon and her husband Darren Hourn lost their two infant children Tamika and Khaleb in a devastating truck accident on Easter Monday 1995.
Darren was driving the truck and made way for a car to overtake when the truck lost balance and crashed on a highway in New South Wales.
She said she used what had happened to her to try and open a conversation between her and the truckies she saw.
"I ask questions while I'm speaking to drivers about whether they've been involved in or witnessed an accident, they might be suffering from depression or anxiety or PTSD,” she said.
"I want to talk, to listen to drivers and help them. We had our accident 23 years ago and nothing has changed, there is no support.
"I say to the guys we love the industry, but it doesn't love us back. That's the black and white of it.”
Sharon started heading out to Balranald in early January and since then has seen about 120 drivers.
"I'm on the ground listening to what their problems are and it all seems to come back to that work diary - people finding it hard to sleep when they're not tired, rest somewhere with no water and no toilet, they're the concerns.”
She said she started heading out to see the drivers because she wanted to do something to make a difference.
"(I had) no one to support me, I copped a lot of flak. I had to go through 12 months trying to walk again because I was badly injured and (the people who helped me) just had no understanding and would say to me 'Why did you take your kids in the truck?',” she said. "It was a challenge for me.”
Sharon volunteered for a charity called the Transhelp Foundation but after she resigned from that position, she saw no one was picking up the slack so decided to head out to the drivers.
While she's not a medical professional, she is trained in first aid and will direct drivers to go to a doctor if anything concerning arises.
Sharon is at the Balranald truck stop on Wednesdays and Thursdays from 8.30am-4pm.