The heart and soul of this industry is its people, which is why I’m so delighted in getting out and visiting VAFI Members and seeing the great work they are doing.
This week the VAFI team is out on the road visiting the North East region of the state. From Benalla to Wangaratta, through to Myrtleford and Corryong, the industry in the region spans our entire supply chain, from growing and managing, through harvesting and hauling, saw milling and processing, timber manufacturing, pulp and paper manufacturing, to panel and board producing. Importantly, this supply chain draws on both plantation timber and native forest resource.
Businesses like Ryan & McNulty Sawmillers and HVP Plantations are a key source of employment in the region. They not only generating income for the local economy, but they play a vital role in supporting the local community – whether it be through sponsoring local sporting teams, or working with the local biking community.
It wouldn’t surprise North East locals to know that the Alpine Shire leads the state in timber related employment, with 7.1% of its employed labour force directly employed in the industry, whilst Benalla Rural City sits third with 4.6% directly employed.
From desks and homes in Melbourne, however, it can be easy to forget how vital industries, like the forest, fibre and wood products industry, are to regional communities. In those LGAs that have a higher dependence on the industry, there is a strong community feeling of how important the industry is to the region, and that the industry has a positive impact on local employment. This contribution, and the economic and social contribution of the businesses, cannot be underestimated.
Our industry is the lifeblood of so many regional communities across the state. This is why we continue to ensure that it has a strong and sustainable future.