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OzHelp launches truck driver aid program Health in Gear

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The OzHelp Foundation (OzHelp) has officially launched Health in Gear, a health and wellbeing program designed to support truck drivers.

An initiative by OzHelp, a national mental health and suicide prevention organisation, Health in Gear provides online resources, roadside health checks, and a support line for owner drivers and their immediate family members.

The program was developed in collaboration with truck drivers, their families, and researchers, as well as the University of Wollongong, who helped OzHelp develop and evaluate the program.

OzHelp CEO Darren Black said Health in Gear is about assisting truck drivers to be as well as they can be, taking into account the unique challenges they face each day.

“Our research uncovered systemic issues across the industry and by working with driver focus groups we’ve developed tips and tools to support drivers in improving and maintai

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ning their health and wellbeing, even during the toughest of times,” Black said.

A key element to the program is the Truckie Tune Up, a mobile health check, with the pilot starting at select sites across ACT and NSW next month.

“These Tune Ups provide drivers with an opportunity to give their own health the same attention they would give their vehicles, hence the Truckie Tune Up,” Black said.

He explained that drivers are often on the road for long periods of time so by taking services to them, their team can provide health checks, and referrals as required.

“The health checks are a chance for drivers have a chat and connect with someone who understands the industry,” he said.

Follow-ups can be arranged, and ongoing support is available through their 1800 IN GEAR support line.

Previously, OzHelp published a literature review which found truck drivers to be subject to constant time pressures, long shifts, tight deadlines, and isolation which can lead to depression, anxiety, and sleeping disorders.

The review also revealed that drivers are at a higher risk of obesity and developing chronic diseases such as diabetes, mental-ill health, and cardiovascular health issues.

Nationally, truck drivers represent the second-highest occupational group, after construction workers, at risk of suicide.

The Health in Gear program is funded through the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator’s 2 (NHVR) Heavy Vehicle Safety Initiative (HVSI), funded by the Australian Government.

NHVR CEO Sal Petroccitto said the program was an important initiative to ensure owner drivers and their families had access to the best possible information, resources and support while on the road.

“We know that healthy drivers are safer drivers, and that all starts with good mental health and wellbeing,” Petroccitto said.

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