Business support

The Victorian Forestry Plan is supporting timber businesses to transition out of native timber, explore opportunities and diversify into different ways of working.

Transition has started and already there is a good take up of support and evidence of innovative thinking within Victoria’s native timber industry.

The industry has continued supply of native timber to 2024, then supply levels will step down until ending in 2030.

A competitive process will be used to allocate timber from mid-2024 to 2030, then commercial harvesting in public native forests ends.

For mills that choose to close, or not participate in the 2024-2030 timber allocation process an opt-out scheme will be available.

Opt-out scheme

Expressions of Interest will open from 2022 at the same time as the 2024-30 timber allocation process is released.

Mills who are successful in the early opt-out scheme will need to agree to exit or transition from the native timber industry prior to June 2023. Full details of the program will be provided at the time the scheme is released.

Mills and workers will be able to access the following supports:

  • Redundancy payments for workers, who may receive up to $120,000 in line with the 2002 Our Forests, Our Future support.
  • Relocation support increased from $20,000 to $45,000.
  • Doubling mill site rehabilitation funding from $75,000 to $150,000.
  • Expanding mental health and wellbeing support to provide a more tailored service for business owners, workers and their families.
  • Establishing dedicated outreach worker transition services so workers can get support in their own communities. Support will include case management for training/retraining, employment support services and specialist career assistance.
  • Plant and Equipment Redundancy payment of up to $250,000 per business in for items that have not been fully depreciated and are unable to be sold.

Opt-out scheme Frequently Asked Questions

There has been strong early take up of the Victorian Forestry Plan support, but transition won’t be for all. The opt-out scheme will enable businesses that wish to exit the industry to do so with dignity and a safety net will be in place to protect their workers. Mills successful in this process will need to exit or transition by June 2023.

Expressions of Interest will open from 2022 in line with the 2024-30 timber allocation process.

  • Redundancy payments for workers, who may receive up to $120,000 in line with the 2002 Our Forests, Our Future support.
  • Relocation support increased from $20,000 to $45,000.
  • Doubling mill site rehabilitation funding from $75,000 to $150,000.
  • Expanding mental health and wellbeing support to provide a more tailored service for business owners, workers and their families.
  • Establishing dedicated outreach worker transition services so workers can get support in their own communities. Support will include case management for training/retraining, employment support services and specialist career assistance.
  • This is in addition of a Plant and Equipment Redundancy payment of up to $250,000 per business in for items that have not been fully depreciated and are unable to be sold.

Expressions of Interest for the opt-out scheme will be open from 2022 for some timber mills that chose not to participate in the timber reallocation process.

Expressions of Interest for the opt-out scheme will be open from 2022.

Mills will be able to apply for the scheme alongside their participation the 2024-30 timber allocation process run by VicForests. If a business’ application is successful, they will be required to withdraw from the timber allocation process.

Mills may choose to not participate in the timber allocation process at all and apply for the opt-out scheme.

No. The opt-out package will close prior to the finalisation of the 2024-30 timber allocation process. In this case, VicForests will honour their existing timber sale agreements until June 2024.

However, all businesses and workers will still have access to the following support regardless:

  • Worker redundancy payments
  • Worker relocations support
  • Worker transition and mental health support
  • Mill rehabilitation payments
  • Plant and equipment redundancy payments.

The timber allocation process will commence in 2022. This is more than two years ahead of the first supply step down. Running the allocation process alongside the new support ensures that Victorian native timber businesses have all available options in front of them and can make informed decisions about their future.

Worker support will not be available until 2023. The roll-out of the Victorian Forestry Plan has provided the opportunity to get good feedback from the native timber industry, workers, unions and timber communities about their specific needs and the support that will help them.

What we heard was that the workers needed greater support than what was available, and we have met that. The additional support will bring the worker support package in-line with that offered through Our Forests, Our Future program in 2002.

The package will need to be based on up-to-date specific information and the survey helps finalise the detail. The data collected in the demographic research will inform the detailed design of the worker transition support package guidelines that will be developed during early 2022.

This will enable the package to be available to workers affected by either the opt-out scheme or timber allocation process from 2022. Applications will open 2022 and be finalised for exits from 2023.

Transition assistance

Forestry Business Transition Voucher program

The first round of the Forestry Business Transition Voucher program closed on 30 November 2021 and was fully subscribed.

The program offered 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.

Round 2 will be available in 2022.

Victorian Timber Innovation Fund

Support is available through the Victorian Timber Innovation Grants Program to assist affected forestry businesses to transition from native timber to plantation fibre and transformative industry investment.

Applications for Round 1 closed Thursday, 31 March 2022.

Round 2 of the program will commence in 2022 to continue supporting the native timber industry’s transition.

Supply

How will the Victorian Government guarantee supply to see out the Victorian Forestry Plan?

The Victorian Government is securing the available supply by resolving errors and inconsistencies to deliver improved regulatory certainty.

New legislation in early 2022 will enable development of Compliance Standards that specifically set out how the timber industry can meet its obligations.

This will establish a legal presumption that operations complying with the guidance outlined in a Compliance Standard will have met the requirements of the Precautionary Principle.

Timber supply was always going to be tight this year due to the impacts of the coronavirus and trade issues, which impacted both native forests and timber plantations in the east of the state.

Unprecedented levels of litigation have compounded this resulting in less areas that can be harvested. These have highlighted the need for new mechanisms to improve regulatory certainty, ensure the timber industry can demonstrate its compliance with the provisions of the Code of Practice for Timber Production, and ensure the law is clear and enforceable.

What are the regulatory measures being put in place to deliver improved regulatory certainty?

New legislation in early 2022 will enable development of Compliance Standards that specifically set out how the timber industry can meet its obligations.

This will establish a legal presumption that operations complying with the guidance outlined in a Compliance Standard will have met the requirements of the Precautionary Principle.

These changes do not change the scope of the Precautionary Principle, nor its environmental protections as it remains a mandatory action under the Code, but Compliance Standards will remove much of the ambiguity about how it is implemented.

How will the Victorian government guarantee supply between now and the amendments being made if they won’t be happen until 2022?

In 2021, changes to the Code of Practice for Timber Production were made to clarify rules for native timber harvesting which has assisted in removing ambiguity of many rules. Further changes to the regulatory framework in 2022 will further assist.

Mills and Harvest and Haulage support

Support package

Details

Date available

Business Transition Support Vouchers

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

Round 1 - closed November 2021

Round 2 - 2022

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

From 2023

Victorian Timber Innovation Fund

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

Round 1 - from 2020

Round 2 - 2022

Mills only support

Support package Details Date available
Mill Site Rehabilitation Up to $150,000 for the safe retirement and repurposing of mill sites From 2023

Gippsland National Institute of Forest Products and Innovation (NIFPI)

The Gippsland National Institute of Forest Products and Innovation (NIFPI) was established in 2020 as a hub of expertise and collaboration across the forest industry.

Eleven projects with a total value of $8.46 million have been successful under the first round of research and development project grants.

The research will investigate the impacts of fire on the performance of timber projects, the smarter use of spatial information for forest management, improving commercialisation of manufactured timber products, feral animal management, and improvements to plantation productivity.

Future support

Further support will come online and be available throughout the transition process to 2030.

Download the flowchart to find out if you are eligible for support and what funding you could receive:

Page last updated: 14 September 2022