VAFI Annual Awards celebrated

Friday 29 Nov 2019

On Friday 15 November, the achievements of VAFI members were recognised by the VAFI Awards.

The Economy Award, sponsored by Timber Training Creswick was awarded to Australian Paper for its outstanding contribution to the Latrobe Valley and Victorian economy through a number of initiatives and major projects undertaken in 2018/19 including the 2018 Maryvale Mill Annual Shut.

The annual shut was one of the longest in the site’s 81-year history. Over 26 days last August and September, the shut allowed for the investment of AU$51 million in 31 separate capital upgrades to strategic Mill infrastructure. More than 50 local businesses were involved in the shut, boosting the Latrobe Valley regional economy and supporting valuable employment opportunities.

The Community Award, sponsored by ForestWorks, was awarded to SFM Environmental Solutions for its Forestry in Schools project. Rendelsham Primary School owned a plantation of trees that had been established on local council land some 35-40 years earlier. SFM staff visited and assessed the site’s suitability for harvest. SFM staff Courtney Pink and Mike Lawson talked to the children in their classroom prior to walking down the entire school to see the harvesting operation in progress. Employment opportunities were also discussed, and once on site, the children were clearly sold on working in the industry.

The Sustainability Award, sponsored by Indufor, was awarded to Walker’s Sawmill in Corryong for its investment in its solar power initiative on the site, demonstrating its commitment to renewable energy and improved productivity. Walker's Sawmill is now reaping the rewards of new LED lighting and solar electricity. Employment has grown to 23 staff and production has increased by 40%. The Sawmill has kept people in jobs, contributed significantly to the local town of Corryong, provided a substantial increase to the timber and forestry industry economy. Crucially, it has achieved this while also lowering the carbon footprint of the business by investing in renewable energy.

VAFI’s Lifetime Achievement recipient was Max Walker of Walker’s Sawmill. Max has devoted more than eight decades to the timber and forestry industry and Tim Johnston, VAFI CEO was privileged to pay tribute to a son, husband, father, stalwart, friend and one hell of a saw miller. Max was not able to travel due to ill health and the award was accepted on his behalf by his son, Graham.

Source: VAFI The News Mill

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