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AFCA workshops hit their mark

THE AUSTRALIAN Forest Contractors Association (AFCA) has decided to get on the front foot to confront industry challenges with its recent regional workshops. Source: Timberbiz
Billed as “Business is Different Now”, the workshops initiative was supported by VAFI, VicForests and HVP Plantations who all actively participated.
Speakers discussed the constant changes that surround doing business today, including employing and overseeing silvicultural, harvest and haul operations.
Presentations included compliance, profitability and moving forward in an ever changing business climate.
Chaired by AFCA chief executive officer Col McCulloch, the one-day workshops at Tumut and Traralgon drew on industry executives, service providers and professional advisors to discuss a wide range of topics and issues.
The presentations concluded with a Q&A session at which prepared questions were put to an industry and Government representative panel.
ForestWork’s chief executive officer Michael Hartman kicked off the sessions with news of a new program aimed at taking innovation “from theory to reality”.
The Innovations Skills Program which starts in October and runs until July 2014 is aimed at providing industry with the skills and knowledge to innovate effectively, including through collaborating with other players in the local value chain.
Hartman stressed while timber was cheap, our industry cannot rely on products such as wood chips but must move to higher value products such as paper or hygiene products.
Nick Reynish, MD of ForestryConnect, challenged attendees to engage with customers online and the new age of communications.
Janet Gilbert from Timber Trade Industry Association (TTIA) spoke about recent Fair Work changes including Modern Awards changes from the 2012 Government’s Review that are effective 1 July 2013 and 1 January 2014. Penalties have been increased; other changes include increased super payments, job flexibility options and changed parental and personal leave provisions.
David Bennett of PF Olsen Australia challenged contractors to ensure contracts were in order and covered all operational facets between different parties’ responsibilities for work done. Service providers should be aware of the legal requirements in contracts, plus statutory and workplace obligations such as OH&S.
Accountant Dallas Frost from WHK Launceston, recognised as an expert advisor on contract estimating for logging transport, highlighted changes in gear that increased productivity. “People make money by continuing to be efficient and productive,” he said.
He also queried productive capacity compared with an operator’s capacity and what the real costs were against assumptions.
With 10 years experience in consulting to industry players, Wagga Wagga-based Nick Molloy from Easdown & Partners said that operators needed to focus on change but that this involved understanding that change was cyclical.
“There are same good signs emerging. The US housing market is recovering and mills are picking up. And we are seeing an increase in house starts in NSW,” he said.
AFCA intends to pursue with ForestWorks, an accreditation program in the supply chain to assist businesses and members.
The next AFCA Workshop will be held in Mt Gambier on August 22, then one in Bunbury on October 4 and another in Coffs Harbour in November (date yet to be finalised).