Sharon Middleton AM

Managing Director | Whiteline Transport (Aust) Pty Ltd

  • Change agent
  • Culture champion
  • Driving reform
Based in: SA
Modes: Freight/logistics
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What makes me proud is that the trucking industry is so essential to all our lives. We routinely help people each and every day, kilometre after kilometre.

Current Positions

  • Managing Director, Whiteline Transport (Aust) Pty Ltd
  • Director, Whiteline Racing Promotions Pty Ltd
  • Board Member, Australian Trucking Association
  • President and Board Member, South Australian Road Transport Association
  • South Australian Road Transport Association representative on the Australian Trucking Association General Council
  • Co-Founder, Foundation Shine Inc

Previous Positions

  • Director, Transport Women Aust. Ltd

Career Snapshot 

Sharon Middleton AM is the Managing Director of Whiteline Transport (Aust) Ptd Ltd, a company she helped build and grow alongside her husband Bob for four decades. Her work encompasses managing and controlling the administration of Whiteline, including financial systems, safety, accreditation, compliance resources as well as long haul driving of road trains and triples in remote and rural Australia.

Sharon is passionate about working to achieve positive outcomes for the trucking industry, in particular to make it an industry of choice for people looking to enter the transport sector. Her significant contribution to the industry includes serving as President of the South Australian Road Transport Association (SARTA) since 2011 and as a Director of the Australian Trucking Association (ATA) Board since 2016.

In 2008 Sharon co-founded the Foundation Shine Inc to raise funds to help people experiencing mental health issues and their carers, with a focus on proactively and practically improving services and facilities.

Sharon’s contribution to the trucking industry and community has been recognised with a series of awards including: the South Australian Road Transport Association’s Outstanding Contribution to Transport Award in 2011,  the Australian Trucking Association’s  Australian Industry Woman of the Year Award in 2013, and being inducted in 2014 into the Alice Springs Transport Hall of Fame (ASTHF) in 2014. Five years later she was recognised as an Industry Icon within the ASTHF.

In 2019 Sharon was appointed as a Member of the Order of Australia for significant service to road transport, particularly to the trucking industry.

In 2022 she was award Life Membership of the South Australian Road Transport Association.

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In her own words  

I was doing secretarial work for a farming machinery company in the yard next to a trucking company, owned and operated by my future husband Bob. He wanted the freight of the business where I was working and would come in and see me, we clicked and here we are nearly 40 years later. It has been a big journey! Together we have built a thriving business with turnover of around $25 million a year. We have grown from small beginnings and now have 60 people in our team. The name Whiteline comes from Bob being mesmerised by the white line of our first route from Sydney to Perth. Today we have a fleet of 35 trucks run as triples and road trains, to effectively give us the capacity of 80 trucks. I joined the industry when there were not many women and I had to develop a tough skin and learn fast. You don’t survive in this industry if you are not tough and  can deal with the challenges thrown your way, as there are certainly plenty of them.

People don’t understand what a good living you can make in trucking. It is highly paid, and it is an extremely diverse industry. It’s not just about being a truck driver – there is marketing, compliance enforcement, operations, workshops –  just so many roles in a trucking company required to make it tick. I still drive because the trips keep you grounded and informed. No one has a better office view than a truck driver when the moon is lighting up the highway. It is very special to witness that as well as morning happening and seasons changing. There is good camaraderie out on the road if you want to be part of it. 

We are also a big part of the communities we work within. What makes me proud is that the trucking industry is so essential to everyday life. During the pandemic and border shut-downs, bush fires and floods, it’s always up to the trucking industry to solve the challenges and stock the grocery shelves. When products need to go into a stricken area after floods or fires, the trucking industry always steps up.

Trucking as an industry of first choice   

We need to promote the industry as a first choice career - not a default option. In trucking the world is your oyster and I would love to see it championed in the same exciting way the air force, army and mining sector showcase their industries. We need positive advertising and commentary from people  working in trucking about how essential we are and how diverse careers in the industry can be. And we need to highlight how giving we are to the community. The trucking industry routinely helps people each and every day, kilometre after kilometre.

I believe we have to engage with school kids to start the thinking around trucking early so I wrote a children’s book  around 10 years ago, to support visits by primary school kids to the depot and challenge kids’ minds.

I am a thinker and always curious, and the longer I am in trucking the more I see to do to make the industry better. Deciding to join industry associations 22 years ago to help improve the industry was a career defining moment for me. Getting change takes times and forming relationships are important. Sometimes it’s a tough gig. All I know is that people who make decisions about this industry who have never been directly involved in trucking are not the right people to be making these decisions alone. Reform needs consultation with the people who are actually going to do the task being initiated to tell you if what you are even thinking about is remotely possible. Being involved in industry associations has allowed me to meet a lot of fantastic people, interact with a lot of governments and bureaucrats and help those people making decisions around regulation consult with people actually working in the trucking industry. My tough experiences in the early days of Whiteline made me resilient and I draw upon this.

We also have a good environmental story. The industry has been doing a hell of a lot of work for many years limiting its footprint – including investing heavily in new trucks with emissions friendly equipment fitted – and we keep evolving.

Driving healthy lives

I started the Foundation Shine 2008 with a long-time friend who had family members experiencing ill mental health. Since then we have raised just shy of $400k channelled into services. I believe it is no longer about building awareness of mental health issues. It’s now time for investing in action, services and tangible solutions.

Also in the trucking industry it is important to support our drivers who are often first responders to accidents and to help them exercise and eat properly on the road. There is a lot of time to think behind the wheel, so it is important to proactively help people focus on their physical and mental health.

In terms of safety the industry badly needs workable solutions to the fatigue laws and access, particularly as there will be greater use of high productivity vehicles to meet growing freight demand well into the future.

I have been a singer and performer from childhood, including multiple appearances on the popular television series Young Talent Time. I use singing and performing to connect with people and am known as the ‘singing truckie’. It helps with my confidence in other areas of my career.

My vision for the next 5 years is... 

The implementation of a fast-tracked schools education program to get young people looking at trucking as a fantastic industry and people in the industry will be recognised and respected for the incredible essential service they provide across the country. Importantly there will be as a real focus on improving the infrastructure on our remote and rural roads and we will have a workable, risk and safety focussed Heavy Vehicle National Law.

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