Article in Driven Women Magazine can be read here or below.

Above left: Ms Bronwyn Halfpenny MP, Parliamentary Secretary for Workplace Safety at the Kangan Institute Workshop with Tayla Mcilwain, an Apprentice at Ventura, and Olivia Camilleri, an Apprentice at Porsche Centre Melbourne.

The percentage of women employed as Automotive and Engineering trade workers has fluctuated throughout the years according to ABS data, and currently 1.1% of this workforce is female. A recent report on the insights of workers in male-dominated industries has identified some of the reasons why this figure is so low.

A recent report by Tradeswomen Australia found that the biggest barriers for women working in trades according to the tradeswomen themselves were Being looked over due to gender (35% of respondents), Access to facilities – Toilets, changerooms etc (25%), Sexual harassment (20%) and Bullying (20%). All of which would take a toll on the mental health of female employees.

To assist the mental health and wellbeing of women, WorkSafe Victoria’s WorkWell Mental Health Improvement Fund, has supported the peak body of women in the trades, Tradeswomen Australia, to pilot the program that explores how increasing diversity within workplaces drives improvements in mental health, wellbeing and reduces mental injury.

More than 160 workplaces in Victoria’s Automotive Industry, representing 3000 employees, have already been confirmed to participate in an industry-first program designed to improve the mental health and wellbeing of small and medium automotive businesses through diversity and inclusion.

Fiona McDonald, CEO of Tradeswomen Australia said the Workplace Diversity Project aims to support businesses to create environments that embrace diversity and inclusion through their recruitment, employee support, and workplace practices.

“With more women joining the automotive industry, and changes in the workplace, the Workplace Diversity Project is timely and will provide an opportunity to recognise the needs of small and large organisations, who are the foundation of the automotive industry in Victoria,” Ms McDonald said.

Fiona McDonald, CEO of Tradeswomen Australia speaking about the Workplace Diversity Project
Inside the Workshop at Kangan Institute. Left: Olivia Camilleri, Apprentice at Porsche Centre Melbourne; Kate Holcolmbe, Marketing Manager, Porsche Centre Melbourne; Giles Hunter, Service Manager, Porsche Centre Melbourne; Gavin Cribb, Manager, Commercial Vehicle and Engine Technology, Kangan Institute Docklands, and Lesley Yates, Director, Government Relations / Advocacy, AAAA.

The number of women working in the automotive field may be small, but they are no less passionate about their jobs than their male counterparts. Olivia Camilleri used to work on cars with her dad from an early age and this developed into a keen interest in them over the years and she chose the automotive industry because I have always been interested in cars and motorsport and now has a Cert II Automotive qualification and currently works at Porsche Melbourne.

“I enjoy working at Porsche Melbourne and have always had a passion for Porsche. Everyone is friendly in the workshop and happy to help me in my development. I like the challenge of working on the cars and learning more about the trade. I am working in my dream job,” shared Olivia.

While Tayla Mcilwain wanted to work on the bigger machines and bigger engines and is undertaking a Cert III in Heavy Commercial Vehicle Mechanical Technology. “I enjoy my job because every day is different from working on brakes, compressors, pumps, and electrical equipment. Maintaining vehicles is a rewarding experience, problem solving issues that lead to repairs makes me feel proud of what I have achieved. The physical aspect of my job I really enjoy as it keeps me fit and surprises me with what I am capable of,” said Tayla.

Mental injury claims are trending upwards, now accounting for 13 per cent of all new injury claims each year. In the next ten years, mental health claims are expected to grow to a third of all new claims each year.

Mental injuries sustained in the workplace have wide-reaching impacts, not only to the worker, but to the worker’s family, colleagues, friends, and the community. The Productivity Commission estimated that absenteeism and presenteeism in the workforce due to workers suffering from mental injuries costs up to $17 billion per year.

With the adult population spending about a third of their life at work, there is an important role for workplaces in improving the mental health of Victorians. WorkSafe Victoria, Executive Director Health and Safety, Julie Nielsen said it was vital that both employers and workers are given the resources they need to create healthy workplaces.

“We are proud to support initiatives like this that will play a lead role in improving mental health and wellbeing in our workplaces, making a lasting difference to the lives of many Victorian workers and their families,” Ms Nielsen said.

The Workplace Diversity Project aims to support businesses to create environments that embrace diversity and inclusion through their recruitment, employee support, and workplace practices. Organisations attending the launch and supporting the Workplace Diversity Project include key major industry bodies – AMA Group, WPC Group, VACC, MEGT, G Force, and AAAA.

How Businesses can get involved?

Automotive businesses can register to be part of the project by registering here.