Closure of the Native Timber Industry – Adjournment Debate

Melina BATH (Eastern Victoria) (18:18): (251) My adjournment debate matter this evening is for the Minister for Agriculture, so I am very pleased to see that she is sitting at the table and can listen to this. Minister, in your ministers statement today you made mention of the native timber industry. You mentioned mental health support and also intensive one-on-one case management. My adjournment debate relates to the mental health support systems that must be in place for an industry that is undergoing catastrophic change.

The action I seek from you is to explain how you are going to implement a holistic mental health triage for mill operators and contractors who run haulage and harvest and their staff right across my Eastern Victoria electorate, including the towns of Orbost, Heyfield, Noojee, Bairnsdale and Drouin, for example, and also the Latrobe Valley. How are you going to implement and serve the mental health needs of the people in the industry? Is it going to be a telehealth system where they can phone a number? If so, what is that number? And how will you explain to those people in Eastern Victoria Region how they going to be able to access that telehealth?

If it is a one in one, what does that look like? Will they go to those individual towns? Will they set up a pop-up facility so that people can access it? I hope you recognise that these people are absolutely hurting, so their mental health is in a very vulnerable state, and they need to be able to access genuine support with professionals to work through both their change of situation and any potential concerns they have and distress they have within their family about the loss of income and the where to from now into the future. You have said on a one-to-one basis, so I would like you to explain that. You can explain through Australian Forest Contractors Association’s Carlie Porteous, the CEO. I am sure she would take your call and receive that explanation. You can explain it through Deb Kerr, who is the Victorian Forest Products Association CEO – how her members are going to be worked and supported. I ask you to explain how you are going to help support the mental health of the native timber industry workers.