Victorian Forestry Plan

The Victorian Government has developed the Victorian Forestry Plan to assist the industry as it manages its gradual transition away from native forest harvesting to a plantation-based timber supply.

Over the last ten years, the availability of native timber for harvesting has decreased by around half, due to bushfires and wildlife protection measures.

At the same time, consumers and retailer demand has grown for plantation timber products.

The Victorian Government has developed the Victorian Forestry Plan to assist the industry as it manages its gradual transition away from native forest harvesting to a plantation-based timber supply.

Under the long-term plan, a $120 million package will help make sure workers, businesses and communities have the support they need during the transition.

By providing a long-term plan, we’re giving workers and businesses time to plan for their future and the industry as a whole time to transition to one based on a plantation-based timber supply.

Workers

In order to assist with the industry’s transition away from native forest timber harvesting, the Victorian Government has developed the Victorian Forestry Plan.

Under the plan, and to ensure security of supply, VicForests will meet existing contractual obligations and negotiate new sawlog supply contracts for all mills to mid-2024.

A competitive process will be used to allocate timber from mid-2024 to 2030, after which commercial native timber harvesting in State forests will cease.

Over this period, our $120 million transition package will help make sure workers and their families have the support they need. This includes:

  • training and re-training programs
  • case management and employment assistance
  • additional support through the Back to Work program
  • top-ups to redundancy payments

This support will be made available to mill workers and harvest and haulage businesses.

In recognition of their role as one of Gippsland’s largest employers, Australian Paper will be supported to transition to a full plantation-based supply, ensuring it operates until at least 2050 – supporting its almost 1,000-strong workforce and providing stability to its customers.

Businesses

The Victorian Forestry Plan has been developed to assist the industry as it manages its gradual transition away from native forest timber harvesting.

Under the plan, and to ensure security of supply, VicForests will meet existing contractual obligations and negotiate new sawlog supply contracts for all mills to mid-2024.

A competitive process will be used to allocate timber from mid-2024 to 2030, after which commercial native timber harvesting in State forests will cease.

Over this period, a $120 million transition package will help make sure local businesses and their workforces have the support they need.

For local businesses that includes financial assistance to prepare and plan their response to the transition, with assistance to re-tool in order to switch to plantation timber as well as financial compensation.

The Victorian Forestry Business Transition Support Voucher Program commenced in June 2020 and offers access to tailored support through business service providers to equip affected forestry businesses with a better understanding of their business capabilities, options and strategies for transition.

Funding of up to $25,000 per business is available to engage appropriate professional services to undertake a Business Diagnostic and / or develop a Business Transition Plan.

The program is administered by Regional Development Victoria. Applications close on 31 March 2021.

Communities

As the industry transitions, the Victorian Forestry Plan includes dedicated support to ensure the continued strength of local communities.

The $120 million package will help communities adapt with the transition of the industry, including developing new opportunities to support local economies.

This will includes grants to grow and create local businesses and jobs, financial support for community projects and funding for local infrastructure.

Local businesses will be supported, with immediate financial assistance to prepare and plan their response to the transition. This includes assistance to retool in order to switch to plantation timber as well as financial compensation.

Environment

In developing the Victorian Forestry Plan, the Victorian Government has aimed to strike the right balance between the environment and jobs.

That includes the phasing out of all native forest harvesting by 2030, while at the same time supporting workers, businesses and communities.

Under the plan, 90,000 hectares of Victoria’s remaining old growth forest will be protected immediately.

The announcement also includes the release of the Greater Glider Action Statement, an important roadmap to protect this iconic species, which was first listed as threatened in 2017.

To protect the future of the Greater Glider – alongside the Leadbeater’s Possum and more than 35 other threatened species – a further 96,000 hectares of forest across Victoria will be made exempt from timber harvesting.

This habitat has been identified by experts as being critical to the survival of the Greater Glider and a range of other precious flora and fauna – many of which are not found anywhere else on earth.

Victorian Forestry Plan worker, business and community support

Mills and Harvest and Haulage

Details including amount directly paid to the operator

 

Business Transition Support Vouchers

  • up to $25,000 per business to engage appropriate professional services to develop a business response plan

Available from 2019

Plant and Equipment Redundancy Payment

  • up to $250,000 per business for items that have not been fully depreciated and are unable to be sold
  • an independent valuation will be undertaken

Available from 2024

Victorian Timber Innovation Fund

  • Grants for innovation that supports their transition from native timber to plantation fibre and transformative industry investments

Available from 2020

Mills only

  

Mill Site Rehabilitation

  • Up to $75,000 for the safe retirement and repurposing of mill sites

Available from 2024

Workers (Mill and Harvest and Haulage

Details including amount directly paid to worker

 

Top up of redundancy for worker

  • The government will provide a top up ensuring that workers receive three weeks of   pay for every year of service, capped at 80 weeks of pay (including employer   contribution) and payment for unused sick leave, capped at 60 hours. The   government’s total top-up is capped at $23,000.

Available from 2024

Worker Transition Services and Coordination including Workers in Transition Scheme

  • co-ordinated service delivery and case management of affected worker delivered at both regional and local levels
  • includes registration, assessment and pro-active referral to training / retraining, employment and support services and linking worker to the pipeline of future employment opportunities
  • information packs and seminars on available support and employment preparation – provided to affected worker in the workplace

Available from 2024

Specialist career transition assistance (workshops and one on one sessions)

  • provision of career coaches and customised career transition plan

Available from 2024

Dealing with change (workshops and one-on-one sessions for family members of impacted workers)

  • provision of support and tools to assist the family to adjust to the change

Available from 2024

Training / Retraining

  • access   to a suite of potential training (and training providers) aligned with worker  needs and available employment opportunities including work-site skills   assessment (for Recognised Prior Learning), pre-employment foundation courses   (e.g. digital literacy, literacy, numeracy), skill sets modules / micro credentials, full VET qualification courses (which may be eligible for an exemption to fees under Skills First), and pre-apprenticeship foundation training

Available from 2024

Mental Health and Wellbeing Support

  • tailored mental health support
  • If you are feeling concerned about the Forestry transition process and this is affecting your personal health and wellbeing, or people you interact with are experiencing personal impact, you can call the Forestry Information Support Line 1800 318 182. Monday to   Friday between 9 am and 5 pm.  A case manager will help connect you with the most appropriate service in your local area.  If you require crisis support you can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 any time of the day or night, or call 000 emergency services.
  • Victoria has a range of mental health support services available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. These services can provide treatment, information, tools and advice on how to deal with a range of mental health concerns.

Available now

Relocation support

  • up to $20,000 per person
  • off-setting costs of relocation to take up an ongoing job with flexibility to cover costs including rent, rental bond, connecting utilities, and removalist and travel costs.

Available from 2024

Expansion of Jobs Victoria services

  • Intensive employment support for disadvantaged jobseekers, including employment brokerage with potential employers and post-placement support

Available from 2024

Ex-forestry worker employer payment

  

Back to Work

  • Payment to employers for employing workers from the native timber industry.
  • $7,000 per person for the employer
  • $4,000 where an employer provides accredited training to the ex-forestry employee

Available from 2024

Communities

Details including amount (over 13 years)

 

Local development strategies

  • $4 million in total
  • economic diversification planning to support affected local economies’ transition to new sustainable industries

Available from 2020

Regional Growth Fund

  • $36 million in total
  • actions from the local development strategies will be supported through the Regional Growth Fund including grants to grow businesses and create jobs in affected communities (particularly targeting   job creation that is relevant for the location, timing and skills of affected native timber workers)

Available from 2020

Page last updated: 21 July 2020