What is FISAP?
The Forest Industry Structural Adjustment Package (FISAP) comprises a number of measures which the Commonwealth Government will fund to assist forest industry businesses and workers adjust to the changes in the native forest resources available to industry. The changes in nature and availability of the native forest resource will occur as a result of the Deferred Forest Assessments (DFAs) and future Regional Forest Agreements (RFAs) between the Commonwealth and the relevant States.
The Commonwealth will commit up to $107 million to the FISAP over 5 years. Given the particular circumstances facing NSW, $60 million of this total is to be committed to a joint package to be implemented in that State. The NSW Government will also contribute $60 million to the joint Package.
The balance of the $107 million will be made available to assist forest industry businesses and workers in the other relevant States - Victoria, Tasmania, Western Australia and Queensland - once a need is identified and appropriate funding and administrative arrangements have been finalised with those States.
How long will the FISAP be available?
The FISAP will apply for 5 years from 1995-96 until 30 June 2000 or up to 18 months after a RFA between the Commonwealth and the relevant State is completed.
Two elements of the package, the Forest Industry Labour Adjustment Package and Rescheduling Assistance (described below), will be available in the other States at the same time as in NSW.
Who can get assistance under FISAP?
Businesses and workers, including the self-employed, may be eligible for assistance if they are
- directly affected by the outcomes of the DFAs and/or the RFAs and are
- either directly involved in the native forest based industry sector (eg, those involved in felling and harvesting, the transport of logs from forests to mills, the transport of woodchips and sawmill residues to mills, mill workers), or
- directly dependent on the native forest industry, and can demonstrate that greater than 50% of their income is, or was, from the direct supply of goods or services to the forest industry, and that they have been rendered financially unviable as a result of Commonwealth decisions.
What are the elements of the FISAP?
The FISAP comprises 4 major components
- Rescheduling Assistance
- Labour Adjustment Package
- Restructuring Assistance
- Business Exit Assistance
The details of each component are explained further below. Administrative arrangements and eligibility criteria for a number of the elements are currently being developed and will be issued as soon as possible.
Under this element, the State forest agencies will be able to apply for a grant equivalent to 2 years interest on a commercial loan to assist with new roadworks that are necessary to facilitate coupe rescheduling as a result of the DFAs and/or RFAs.
Consideration will also be given to providing assistance to native forest industry businesses which have incurred additional transport costs as a result of having to obtain wood supplies from coupes beyond their normal economic transport distance. To obtain assistance they would need to be able to demonstrate to an independent assessor appointed by the Government that the additional transport costs incurred resulted directly from the outcome of the DFAs.
Labour Adjustment for Employees and Self-Employed
A Labour Adjustment Package (LAP) has been established for workers, including the self-employed, who have been displaced from the native forests sector as a result of the DFAs and/or RFAs. Those who are directly dependent on the native forest industry, and can demonstrate that greater than 50% of their income is, or was, from the direct supply of goods or services to the forest industry, and that they have been rendered financially unviable as a result of Commonwealth decisions, are also eligible for assistance under the LAP.
The total length of LAP post retrenchment entitlement is 52 weeks, unless the client is assessed as needing preparatory training (such as literacy, numeracy, English language skills) in order to gain the full benefit of any subsequent vocational training. In that case, the total entitlement is 78 weeks, and any amount of that entitlement can be expended on preparatory training.
The entitlement can include any or all of the following, depending on the clients needs and aspirations:
- preparatory training (up to a total of 78 weeks as discussed above)
- vocational training (up to 52 weeks)
- wage subsidy for a new employer (currently $200 per week for 16 weeks)
- and can include:
- relocation assistance to take up employment or to attend formal training (amounts vary depending on the circumstances but the maximum amount is $8,000)
- fares assistance for job search.
In the event that an enterprises makes a decision to close or to relocate, a package of enterprise based assistance for affected workers can be implemented. Up to $250,000 of Commonwealth assistance can be provided, on a matching basis, to implement a package of pre-retrenchment assistance. Enterprises that have adopted this approach in the past have indicated high staff morale, maintenance of product quality and significant numbers of workers moving directly into further employment.
The scope and nature of this assistance is determined by an enterprise based committee, but can typically include:
- on site CES services (on a fee for service basis) to advise, facilitate, process or contract courses
- financial/vocational/career /personal counselling
- job search training
- resume writing
- preparatory or vocational training
- networking to locate alternative employment opportunities.
Assistance accessed pre-retrenchment will not affect post-retrenchment eligibility
Assistance provided by the Commonwealth under the LAP is available through the Commonwealth Employment Service (CES).
Additional assistance may be provided by some States. For example, NSW has announced a complementary package that offers additional labour adjustment benefits.
Restructuring assistance aims to provide assistance for eligible forest industry businesses in the native forests based industry sector (and their employees) which have good prospects of long term viability and which
- either need to restructure in order to utilise a different forest resource base, or
- are willing and able to move to new value adding opportunities within the same sector or elsewhere in the forest industries.
For enterprises which intend to remain in the native forests based industry sector, assistance may be provided through the Training and Skills (TASK) program administered by the Commonwealth Department of Employment, Education and Training (DEET) to retrain and help retain employees at risk of retrenchment. This may include training related to the operation of new value adding plant and equipment based on native hardwood regrowth resources, eg kilns, moulding machinery, etc.
A range of assistance measures are also available through existing Commonwealth Government business programs delivered by AusIndustry including advice on business planning, restructuring company operations, upgrading general business management skills and other enterprise improvement activities.
The Commonwealth will also provide limited assistance to encourage investment in new plant and equipment for the processing of wood and wood products, eg, retooling of a sawmill to improve sawntimber recovery or convert from hardwood to softwood, investment in kiln drying facilities or moulding plant to increase value added outputs. The assistance will be provided in respect of approved projects as an interest subsidy of 50% for 5 years to a limit of $250,000 on the interest payable on new loans.
Project proposals seeking an interest rate subsidy will be assessed on their merits and be determined on a competitive basis in accordance with predetermined eligibility and assessment criteria.
Business Exit Assistance
Business exit assistance will also be available to native forest businesses that have been adversely affected by the DFA and/or RFA outcomes and wish to leave the industry. This assistance will also be available to businesses whose departure from the industry would enable other businesses with good long term prospects to remain and invest in value adding opportunities.
An independent assessor will be contracted to undertake the assessments in accordance with eligibility criteria currently being developed.
How can the elements of the FISAP be accessed?
A network of Forest Liaison Officers will be established to facilitate the process of informing displaced workers, including self-employed workers, of the range and nature of assistance available under the FISAP. Forest Liaison Officers will be funded via grants made to industry bodies, and will be employed by, and responsible to, those bodies, with their duties regulated by a contract between the Commonwealth and the employing body.
At a broader level the Commonwealth also has a range of existing programs which can assist regional adjustment and support the growth and diversification of regional economies, including those with important forest based industries. The Commonwealth Government has provided additional funding for some of these programs through the Wood and Paper Industries Strategy.
The programs include:
- the Regional Development Program administered by the Department of Housing and Regional Development. Under this program Regional Development Organisations are well placed to bring together relevant interest groups to develop broad strategic plans for regions and promote options for diversifying regional employment.
- AusIndustry, administered by the Department of Industry, Science and Technology, will appoint specific client managers to assist firms access enterprise improvement activities, such as business planning, design, benchmarking, waste management and quality control.
- Plantations and Farm Forestry development which will fund Regional Plantation Committees to help develop sustainable commercial plantations and plantation development officers.
- Working Nation initiatives administered through DEET, such as Landcare and Environment Action Program (LEAP), Regional Environmental Employment Projects (REEP) and New Work Opportunities, provide opportunities to encourage the creation of jobs in new employment areas.
- the network of Area Consultative Committees will assist in developing regional employment strategies and identifying new job opportunities in the wood and paper industries.
For additional information contact:
Department of Agriculture
GPO 858 Canberra ACT 2601
Phone: 02 6272 4488