Government’s free TAFE program to retrain native loggers

by | Jun 6, 2023


In light of the Victorian State Government’s decision to end native forest logging by 2024, the Government is bringing existing support forward and scaled up meaning every timber worker will be directly supported to find a new job.

The Government says forest contractor workers will be secured with contracts for forest management works, enabling them to continue to work in the forests they are familiar with and contribute to bushfire risk reduction, reported Timberbiz.

The Government’s Free TAFE program will also retrain workers, helping them get jobs in growing regional industries like construction, agriculture, transport, and manufacturing through TAFE Gippsland and other key TAFE campuses in timber communities. This will be supported by up to $8,000 in retraining vouchers for courses inside and outside the TAFE Network.

“We will continue to back workers and their families with financial and mental health support, by connecting them to specialist mental health service providers in their local area and covering out-of-pocket costs. Industry support payments will also continue as needed until the transition is finalised,” the Government statement released on 23 May says.

“We are being upfront with the industry and continuing to deliver a managed transition to support every worker and every business. Because we will never leave them to go it alone.”

The Government says timber communities have worked with it to identify the jobs and growth sectors that will drive a sustainable future in their local economies.

“We will continue to invest in these opportunities to support and create jobs through the Community Development Fund. We will continue the discussions we have been having with Opal to support their transition to plantation supply and recycled products. The dedicated Opal Worker Support Service will support every impacted worker at Maryvale,” the statement says.

All other native timber mills will be eligible for a voluntary transition package as well, whether they choose to stay in timber processing or switch to other industry sectors. Mills that stay will be able to access investment support through the Timber Innovation Fund.

The Government is also providing support to local businesses reliant on Victorian hardwood supply to manage the transition process. The Supply Chain Resilience package will support business continuity and provide assistance to aid in manufacturing and other businesses making the transition to future opportunities.

As part of the transition, the Government will be required to deliver a program of land management works to manage the 1.8 million hectares of public land currently subject to the timber harvesting allocation order. This will see the largest expansion to Victoria’s public forests in the state’s history.

The Government says it will establish an advisory panel to consider and make recommendations to the Government on the areas of forests that qualify for protection as National Parks, the areas of state forests that would be suitable for recreation opportunities – including camping, hunting, hiking, mountain biking and four-wheel driving – and opportunities for management of public land by Traditional Owners.