Joint Victorian and Australian Government Consultation on Modernisation of the Victorian Regional Forest Agreements (RFAs)

Environment, industry, and recreation groups, local government, metropolitan and regional Victorians participated in consultation from 3 May – 7 July 2019 which included 47 face-to-face events held across regional Victoria and in Melbourne, and an online survey and submission process.

135 written submissions and 733 survey responses were received, and more than 330 people participated in face to face discussions and drop-in sessions.

Further detail around modernisation of the RFAs, the consultation structure and process, and broader forest management reforms underway in Victoria is provided in the message from the Joint Victorian and Australian Government RFA Working Group.

A creek winds through lush green rainforest

Read How modernised RFAs address consultation feedback here (PDF, 261.1 KB). Accessible version here (DOCX, 53.7 KB)

Data from the state-wide public consultation has been analysed and the Independent Report on Joint Consultation on Modernisation of the Victorian Regional Forest Agreements (PDF, 1.9 MB) produced by Converlens.

Independent regional reports of input and discussion at engagement events have been prepared by Cloud Catcher, the consultancy who facilitated the face to face engagement activities. These are published below.

Written submissions are published, with the exception being those whose authors chose to opt-out from making their submission public.

If you require an accessible version of any of these documents please contact us.

FAQs: Community Input and Consultation

Consultation activity was structured around the Independent Consultation Paper ‘Modernising the Victorian Regional Forest Agreements’ developed by Dr William Jackson which provided information about what the Victorian RFAs are, how they operate, how effective they have been and recommended areas for improvement to the Victorian RFAs.

Participation was open to all Victorians.  

Consultation was designed to elicit the views Victorians on how the RFAs could be improved.

This included environment groups, industry groups, recreational groups, local government and members of the community who wanted to have their say. Participation was conducted face-to-face in the regions and in Melbourne, along with an online survey and submission process via Engage Victoria.

Extensive state-wide community consultation was conducted by the Victorian and Australian Governments.  

This included:

  • an online survey (733 participants),  
  • public submission process (135 submissions received),
  • and  47 face-to-face engagement events in regional Victoria and Melbourne including stakeholder workshops, meetings and community drop-in sessions.

Through these processes we heard that overall Victorians believe biodiversity, flora and fauna and old growth forest should be protected. Participants recognised the many benefits and uses of Victoria’s forests, including environmental and economic, and supported a transition to plantation timber supply and as well as the ongoing development of other emerging industries such as carbon sequestration and tourism.

This feedback is reflected in the modernised RFAs.

State and Federal Government representatives from the RFA Joint Government Working Group were present at all face to face engagement events which were facilitated by independent facilitators, Cloud Catcher and the subsequent regional reports were produced by Cloud Catcher.

The Victorian and Australian Governments also engaged Converlens (a qualitative data analysis company specialising in consultation processes) to collate and analyse the input received via all engagement activities - the online survey, written submissions and face-to-face engagement – and produce the consultation report.

Converlens has produced The Independent Report on Joint Victorian and Australian Government Consultation on Modernisation of the Victorian Regional Forest Agreements (RFAs) that reflects the views and responses received from those who participated in the engagement opportunities offered. The report identifies the issues, themes and topics of importance raised in responses from consultation participants.

Face to face events were independently facilitated, data gathered from all engagement activity was independently analysed and detailed reports were independently produced and are available via the links above.

Most of the 135 written submissions received have been published on the DELWP website the exception being those where authors chose to opt-out from sharing their submission.

Victorian Traditional Owners have been involved in the RFA modernisation process through meetings on Country, roundtables with representatives from Traditional Owner Corporations, ongoing engagement between Traditional Owners and DELWP staff, and Traditional Owner representation on the RFA Reference Group.  

We have heard from Traditional Owners about the need for meaningful partnerships locally and state-wide in forest management and decision making incorporating Traditional Owner values and knowledge.  The importance of upholding cultural obligations to care for Country for future generations and the right to pursue economic, cultural and social development is clear.

Traditional Owners were closely involved in the drafting of clauses of direct relevance and informed the modernisation process more broadly with the above insights.

Regional Forest Agreements FAQ

Victoria’s five Regional Forest Agreements (RFAs) provide a robust framework for sustainable, active and adaptive management of Victoria’s forests for all uses and benefits including cultural, social, recreational, environmental, and economic. 

Through the RFAs, the Commonwealth Government accredits Victoria’s forest management system.  As a result, timber harvesting operations done in accordance with a relevant RFA are not subject to certain Commonwealth legislative requirements.  

This streamlines regulatory processes for the timber industry. The modernised RFAs will provide these benefits over the next 10 years while Victoria phases out  native logging as per the Victorian Forestry Plan

RFAs remain the most effective mechanism available to achieve these aims and support the transition from native timber harvesting to plantations by 2030.

The existing RFAs were agreed more than 20 years ago and a lot has changed since then. The upcoming expiry of these RFAs on 31 March 2020 was a catalyst to review and update the agreements in line with the current context, including contemporary community values and science and to recognise the challenges of climate change. 

The Victorian Government has invested $17.6 million in forest management reform which includes the modernisation of Victoria’s RFAs. This has resulted in significant improvements to our RFAs which bolsters protection for Victoria’s unique forest biodiversity and threatened species.

Page last updated: 01/04/20