Aussie transport women recognised in Australia Day honours

Honours are awarded on Australia’s national day; this Australia Day, two women from the Australian road transport sector were honoured for their services to the industry (Photo: Parliament House; Shutterstock)

Sharon Middleton of Whiteline Australia Transport in Adelaide, and Phyllis Jones of road transport company NJ & NP Jones, based near the town of Hay in Outback New South Wales, have been honoured for their services to the road transport industry in Australia’s annual Austraila Day national awards.

Ms Middleton was awarded membership of the Order of Australia and is entitled to use the post-nominals AM. Mrs Jones was awarded a medal of the Order and is entitled to use the post-nominals OAM.

“Both Sharon and Phyllis are well-known within the trucking industry for their passion and dedication, each demonstrating a commitment to improving the industry and ensuring its professionalism,” Australian Trucking Association chairman Geoff Crouch said about the awards.

FreightWaves spoke to Middleton about her award.

“I’m very humbled as is anyone who receives an AM, especially when you’re just going about your daily business. You get correspondence a few weeks out asking if you would accept the award. I received an official-looking letter and assumed it was to do [with my charity work]. When I received the awards letter, I was shocked and humbled and pleased,” Middleton says.

“I’m mindful that there is so much more to do,” she says, adding, “there’s lots going on and we need to influence decision makers to take grass-roots interests into account.”

Such interests include, she says, the rules around fatigue in relation to very remote operations in Australia and the extreme heat the country experiences. “It’s the ability to do the job safely and one-size-doesn’t-fit-all,” Middleton says.

FreightWaves also spoke to Jones. “I’m very honoured and very humbled for being awarded for something I love doing,” Jones tells FreightWaves. She says that she helps run the livestock, grain and wool transport company NJ & NP Jones, which she founded with her late husband. She was a company driver for about 11 years, before moving into management and administration while raising a family of four. She today works on the administration of the company and sits on a variety of industry committees.

Jones says that, among the biggest issues in road transport today, is for truck drivers not to be treated as second class citizens. “I get quite disgusted. They are not respected for who they are and what they do,” she says.

Australian honours are awarded at least twice a year – once on Australia Day, which is the national holiday, and once also on the Queen’s Birthday. According to a statement by the Governor General, who, as the official representative of the Queen of Australia (currently Elizabeth II), represents the head of state, the Australian honours system is “a vital part of our social fabric. Honours help define, encourage and reinforce our national aspirations, ideals and standards by identifying those among us who make an outstanding contribution to our society. The recipients of Australian honours and awards are very special men and women whose actions have set them apart and enriched our community across a broad range of professional, public and community service sectors.”

The Order of Australia is the main way in which Australians are honoured. It was set up in 1975 and it has four levels – Companion (AC), Officer (AO), Member (AM), and Medal of the Order (OAM). There are a further two sub-divisions into general (civilian) and military. Anyone can make a nomination; all nominations are considered by a 19-strong Council of the Order of Australia.

There were 1,127 awards made this Australia Day. Of those honours, there were a further eight awards for transport-related services in addition to Ms Middleton and Mrs Jones. Warren Truss, a former transport minister and deputy prime minister, was made a Companion of the Order (the highest class of honours). Two AMs were awarded – one for transport-related engineering and the other for tugboat safety.There was also an OAM awarded for services to aviation transport. There were also four transport-related meritorious service awards for public servants.

Of the awards made this year, 19 were to people were appointed as Companions of the Order (AC); 71 were appointed Officers of the Order (AO); 282 appointed Members of the Order (AM) and 755 Medals (OAM) were awarded.

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Jim Wilson, Australia Correspondent

Sydney-based journalist and photojournalist, Jim Wilson, is the Australia Correspondent for FreightWaves. Since beginning his journalism career in 2000, Jim has primarily worked as a business reporter, editor, and manager for maritime publications in Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and Australia. He has won several awards for logistics-related journalism and has had photography published in the global maritime press. Jim has also run publications focused on human resources management, workplace health and safety, venture capital, and law. He holds a degree in law and legal practice.