Support for Victorian Forestry & Timber Workers

All workers employed in the native timber industry can access the Worker Support Program including:

  • Workers in Sawmills
  • Workers in Timber Processing mills
  • Harvest crews and Haulage drivers
  • Sawmillers and Timber Processors
  • Harvest and Haulage contractors and subcontractors

This includes direct employees, casual or temporary employees, VicForests Harvest and Haulage contractors, their sub-contractors, and sole traders.

Worker Support Program

Under the Workers Support Program (WSP) if you are made redundant you may be entitled to Support Payments.

Worker Support Payments can only be accessed when a worker is made redundant or does not have their contract renewed because of the Sawmill Opt-out Scheme or mill closure or business downsizing as a result of VicForests Timber Sales Processes.

Support Payments – Top up of redundancy for workers

Workers will receive a redundancy payment of up to $150,000 which includes:

  • Four weeks of pay for every year of service, including statutory entitlements
  • Up to 152 hours of unused sick leave

Support Payments – Over 45 payment

Workers over 45 are eligible for an extra 3 weeks pay for every year they have worked since turning 45 years, capped at $50,000.

Support Payments – Re-location support

  • Eligible workers may receive a relocation support payment of up to $45,000 if alternative employment has been secured and involves moving more than 50kms from current address
  • Contact us to assess your eligibility, get support with your application and payment administration

Employment

We will provide dedicated one-on-one support with employment skills, resume writing, application support and more

Training

We will assist you with:

  • getting recognition for your prior learning. Click here to read more about recognition of your skills
  • developing and personalising re-training plan
  • providing assistance with education providers and training funds administration

Health and Wellbeing Support

Your health and wellbeing are our top priority. We can assist by giving mental health contact and referrals


Free native timber industry mental health support in each region:

Frequently Asked Questions

Support for Sawmill or Timber workers, Harvest crews and Haulage drivers

Support available right now:

  • Redundancy top-up payment
  • Relocation payment
  • Over 45 payment
  • Dedicated case management
  • Health and wellbeing support
  • Funded training and Recognition of Prior Learning – including travel
  • Employment support and career assistance
  • Referral to other services, including Skills and Jobs Centres and Jobs Victoria

Workers and forest contractors can register for the Victorian Forestry Worker Support Program via the ForestWorks website or by calling 1800 177 001.

All workers employed in the native timber industry can access the Victorian Forestry Worker Support Program including:

  • Timber processing/sawmill or timber workers
  • Harvest and haulage contractors, their employees, and sub-contractors
  • Professional and supply chain businesses (not eligible for Worker Support Payment)
  • Family members of the above (not eligible for Worker Support Payment).

Interim support services are available right now for casual workers who are not working and permanent staff who are stood down or on reduced hours.

Worker Support Payments

For permanent workers: Worker Support Payments can be accessed if you are made redundant or do not have your contract renewed because of the Sawmill Opt-out Scheme or mill closure or business downsizing because of VicForests Timber Sales Processes.

For casual or temporary workers: Worker Support Payments can be accessed if you are no longer given shifts because of the Sawmill Opt-out Scheme or mill closure or business downsizing as a result of VicForests Timber Sales Processes.

Worker support payments can only be accessed once.

Worker Support Service

Workers, their families, and community members can register with the Worker Support Program now.

A case manager will work with you to understand your needs and access to training, career support and mental health and wellbeing services.

You do not need to be made redundant to access the worker support service services but if you change your job, it may affect any worker support payments you apply for including in relation to tax.

Under the Plan eligible workers under 45 years old will receive a redundancy top-up payment of up to $150,000 which includes.

  • four weeks of pay for every year of service in the native timber industry, including any statutory entitlements.
  • up to 152 hours of unused sick leave.

For workers over 45 years old will receive a redundancy top-up payment of up to $200,000 which includes:

  • four weeks of pay for every year of service in the native timber industry, including any statutory entitlements.
  • up to 152 hours of unused sick leave.
  • an extra three weeks’ of pay for each year of service since turning 45 years old capped at $50,000.

Eligible workers may receive a relocation support payment of up to $45,000 if alternative employment has been secured and involves moving more than 50kms from current address.

Length of service and rate of pay will be determined by:

  • For direct employees: records showing employment for six of 12 months of each financial year claimed. Workers will be paid at their most recent ordinary rate.
  • For contractors and sub-contractors: the rate of pay will be based on your average yearly earnings for the best two financial years between 2018-2019 and 2021-2022, divided by 52, up to $150,000 per annum.
  • Where no record of industry service is provided, payment will be based on records from the most recent employer or contractor.

Workers will have one opportunity to access a worker support payment. If they receive a payment, before returning to work in the native timber industry, they will not be able to access the scheme again.

Employment (dedicated one-on-one support)

  • Digital employment skills
  • Resume and application support
  • Local Employment advice
  • Career advice and planning.
  • Appropriate support and referrals from Jobs Victoria Employment Services as appropriate and referral to other support as needed

Training

  • Recognition of Prior Learning
  • Business start-up advice
  • Training plans and further training
  • Assistance with education providers
  • Training funds administration.

Health and wellbeing support

  • Mental health support
  • Clinical referrals
  • Peer Support
  • Referrals to financial counselling, superannuation and retirement advice.

The Worker Support Service can be accessed at any time.

Worker Support Payments can be accessed if you are made redundant, no longer given shifts as a casual or temporary worker or do not have your contract renewed because of a mill closure or business downsizing because of native forestry transition.

If you change your employment, this may affect worker support payments you apply for, including in relation to tax.

Payments can only be made, when your employment has ended.

Worker Support Payments can be accessed if you are made redundant, no longer given shifts as a casual worker or temporary or do not have your contract renewed because of a mill closure or business downsizing because of native forestry transition.

Worker support payments can only be accessed once.

Employment typeEnd of work typePayments
PermanentQuitNo payments
PermanentMade redundantPayment
PermanentQuit, employed by different native timber business then made redundantPayment but payment amount and tax may impacted.
Casual or temporary mill workerNo longer have shifts/workPayment
Casual contractor/sole trader working for head contractorNo longer have shifts/workPayment

Permanent workers

If you are a mill worker or contractor and are permanently employed and quit your current role you will not be eligible for payments.

The exception to this is if you quit and then are employed by another native timber business and then made redundant. However, changing your job may affect any worker support payments you apply for including in relation to tax.

Casual or temporary workers

If you are a casual contractor/sole trader working for a head contractor and no longer have work, or a temporary mill worker, then you are eligible for payments. In order to access a payment you will have to demonstrate that your employment ended because of native forestry transition.

If you receive a Worker Support Payment, you will not be able access further payments if you return to a job in the native timber industry.

If you do not meet these criteria for a Worker Support Payment, the Worker Support Service will consider an application under exceptional circumstances.

The Worker Support Program will support small purchases of equipment for new employment.

Worker Support Payments can be accessed if you are made redundant or do not have your contract renewed because of a mill closure or business downsizing because of native forestry transition.

A Worker Support Payment is calculated based on your ordinary hours of work, your ordinary rates, and the length of time you have worked in the native timber industry.

If you are made redundant your employer has a statutory requirement to pay any redundancy entitlements. Some small businesses do not have to pay redundancy pay, and the type of employment or period of your employment may mean you are not owed a redundancy.

In the case where your employer cannot pay the redundancy entitlements then the Victorian Government will incorporate this as part of the Worker Support Payment. These payments will be backdated to the date that you become redundant.

If you are owed back pay, your employer is required to pay this. If they cannot pay any back pay owed, you may wish to seek legal advice or support from your union.

Worker support payments can only be accessed once.

‘Employment ending’ means you have been made redundant, your contract has not been renewed or you are no longer receiving shifts at your workplace.

If you quit your job, you will be able to access the Worker Support Service, but you will not be eligible for Worker Support Payments.

Worker support payments can only be accessed once.

Different payments will be taxed differently, depending on factors such as the amount being paid and the circumstances of your employment ending. You should seek independent tax advice before leaving your role or changing your job.

The Worker Support Payment is separate to superannuation payments.

You should talk to your Workers Assistance Coordinator regarding financial planning services available.

Yes.

The Victorian Forestry Worker Support Service offers dedicated one-on-one support and other accessible worker transition services including:

Employment Support – referral to skills and jobs centres for job searching, digital employment skills, career assistance services such as resume and application support, local employment advice, brokerage of employment opportunities, career advice and planning, additional support from Jobs Victoria Employment Services as appropriate and referral to other support as needed.

Training/Retraining – development of a training plan and access to a suite of potential training programs or courses (funded training and recognition of prior learning) that will be identified for each worker, assistance with education providers, training funds administration.