3.3 Impacts of the forest industry on its workforce

​​The following indicators provide information that can assist in monitoring the social and economic impacts of the forest industry on the people who depend on forestry for their livelihood, by analysing change in the following characteristics of forestry workers over time:

  • Income earned;
  • Work injury rates;
  • Self-rated physical and mental health;
  • Self-rated well-being;
  • Age;
  • Gender;
  • Attachment to place;
  • Cultural and family attachment to forestry;
  • Hours worked; and
  • Educational qualifications.

These indicators provide a picture of key characteristics of forestry workers compared to the overall labour force, how their well-being is changing over time, and their relationship to the industry that employs them.

They provide a useful understanding of some key characteristics, but should be accompanied by more in-depth study which identifies what changes in the different characteristics mean – if the forestry workforce is ageing, is this an indicator of potential future skills shortages? How does working long (or short) hours affect people in the industry?

3.3.1 Income earned by forestry workers

The income earned by forestry workers is a key indicator of their wellbeing, although with limitations. Higher income does not always indicator higher wellbeing, although it is argued to have at least some impact on wellbeing by a number of theorists, and many studies have demonstrated some link between the two.

The average income earned by forestry workers in 2006 is shown in Figure 28, while change in income over 2001-2006 is shown in Figure 29. The distribution of forestry workers income is compared to that of the overall labour force in Figure 3019. It can be seen that in the South East region of South Australia, forest industry workers earned more on average than forestry workers in other regions, while in the Western District and Wimmera regions, they earned less than average for other regions. Western District and Wimmera forestry workers have experienced slower growth in the $1,000-1,599 income bracket than other regions, while South East forestry workers experienced higher growth in this category, consistent with the finding that income is higher in the South East. The reasons for the difference in income within the Green Triangle cannot be identified based on this data, with more work needed to identify the reasons for differences in income.

When compared to average income across all workers, fewer forestry workers earn less than $400/week, and more earn between $400-$1599 than the average across the total workforce. Slightly more forestry workers earn above $1600 per week compared to the overall workforce.

Therefore forestry workers on average earn a higher income than the Australian average across most income categories. This is partly because forestry worker income is measured for those employed in forestry, whereas income across the whole labour force includes income earned by those on social security benefits, which tends to reduce income.

This difference is greatly reduced when low income earners are removed; Figure 31 shows distribution of income amongst workers earning more than $400/week, which would exclude most social security payments. A greater percentage of forestry workers earn $600-999 than the average for all workers, while fewer earn $400-599, and somewhat fewer earn above $1600. Income distribution of forestry workers and the general workforce is similar for the $1,000-1,499/1,599 category.

It is recommended that this indicator only be used to Statistical Division level as small numbers of workers in some SLAs reduce usefulness of using the indicator at local scales20.

This is an image of a graph Figure 28: Distribution of forestry worker income, 2006 ? Australia, South Australia and Victoria, and South East, Western District and Wimmera Statistical Divisions. 

Figure 28: Distribution of forestry worker income, 2006 – Australia, South Australia and Victoria, and South East, Western District and Wimmera Statistical Divisions21

This is an image of a graph Figure 29: Average annual rate of change in percentage of forestry workers in different income categories, 2001-2006. 

Figure 29: Average annual rate of change in percentage of forestry workers in different income categories, 2001-2006

This is an image of a graph Figure 30: Comparison of forest worker income and average income of total workforce, 2006. 

Figure 30: Comparison of forest worker income and average income of total workforce, 2006

This is an image of a graph Figure 31: Comparison of forest worker income and average income of total workforce for those earning more than $400 per week, 2006. 

Figure 31: Comparison of forest worker income and average income of total workforce for those earning more than $400 per week, 2006

3.3.2 Physical health – reported injury rates

The physical health of forestry workers has a significant influence on their wellbeing. The most direct way to measure how working in the industry impacts on wellbeing of workers is to identify the rate of workplace injuries experienced by forestry workers.

This social indicator reports rates of workplace injuries per 1,000 forest industry workers over a financial year. The information in injuries is drawn from the National Data Set for Compensation-based Statistics (NDS). The NDS records all occupational diseases and injuries for which a work-based compensation payment has occurred, including diseases and injuries causing death, permanent incapacity, or temporary incapacity. It does not include incidence of occupation-related diseases or injuries for which no compensation payment has been made, so represents only a subset of the total occupational diseases and injuries. It is a useful dataset because it allows comparison across industries, so that even with only compensated diseases and injuries included it enables identification of whether the forest industry has higher occupational disease and injury rates than other injuries.

When examining data over 1997-98 to 2005-06 (Figures 32 and 3322), it can be seen that:

  • There is a higher rate of occupational disease and injury in the forestry and logging sector compared to the average across all industries, and compared to the ‘agriculture, forestry & fishing’ and ‘agriculture’ industries;
  • There is a higher rate of occupational disease and injury in the wood and paper product manufacturing sector compared to the manufacturing sector as a whole, and compared to the average across all industries;
  • Occupational disease and injury rates are consistently higher in the wood and paper product manufacturing sector compared to the forestry and logging sector;
  • Occupational disease and injury rates in the forestry and logging sector have varied widely. While there has been a slight fall in the rate of forestry and logging incidence of injury and disease over time, this fall has been less than that experienced in either of the comparison categories; and
  • Occupational disease and injury rates in the wood and paper product manufacturing sector have fallen over time, but not at the same rate as they have fallen in the manufacturing sector as a whole, or across all Australian industries.

Overall, the forest industry experiences a higher rate of occupational disease and injury than other industries, particularly in the manufacturing sector, and rates of occupational disease and injury are falling more slowly than for other industries. The higher risk of disease and injury in the forest industry compared to others is an indicator of reduced wellbeing in the industry.

While these data do not specifically cover the Green Triangle, they indicate that it is likely that the forest industry there has relatively high levels of occupational disease and injury. It would be useful to have data for native forest and plantation sectors separately, as different technologies and practices are used for both and this may be associated with differing rates of injury and disease. Unfortunately, these data are not currently available.

This is an image of a graph Figure 32: Compensated occupational disease and injury rate per 1,000 workers, compared across industries, 1997-98 to 2005-06. 

Figure 32: Compensated occupational disease and injury rate per 1,000 workers, compared across industries, 1997-98 to 2005-06

This is an image of a graph Figure 33: Compensated occupational disease and injury rate per 1,000 workers, compared over time, 1997-98 to 2005-06. 

Figure 33: Compensated occupational disease and injury rate per 1,000 workers, compared over time, 1997-98 to 2005-06

3.3.3 Self-rated health (physical and mental)

While data on compensated disease and injury are useful, they provide information on a subset of health issues that may be of relevance. This social indicator reports the physical and mental health of forestry workers, based on their self-reported health.

Data were gathered via a survey of forestry workers in which they were asked to self-identify the extent to which they had experienced symptoms such as difficulty sleeping, depression, stress or anxiety, and physical injury while working, as well as the level of work-related risk they perceived was present in their workplace as a result of the physical conditions, hours worked, equipment, noise, and stress. As described in the ‘Methods’ section, survey responses may be biased towards office-based industry workers.

The proportion of respondents who had experienced a symptom of ill-health is identified in Figure 34, which compares forestry workers in the Green Triangle to all survey respondents. Survey respondents were also asked whether they had seen a medical professional; between 7% and 15% of respondents had seen a medical professional about the symptoms they experienced.

Green Triangle respondents reported similar health problems to all other forestry workers across all categories.

Across all workers, difficulty sleeping was the most common health problem reported, with 67% of respondents experiencing the symptom and 8% of these seeing a health care professional about it. The least common health problem was physical injury incurred at work, with 12% experiencing the symptom and 6% of these seeing a health care professional about the injury. The low level of physical injury reported is likely to be influenced by the high number of respondents who were employed in forestry jobs that do not involve physical labour.

Forty six per cent of respondents experienced back pain, and 10% of these had seen a health care professional about it. Fifty seven per cent of employees have been affected by stress, anxiety or depression, with 8% of these visiting a health care professional because of these symptoms. Headaches and excessive fatigue also affected just under half of those surveyed.

Further work is needed to identify if these results are unusual for people of working age who are employed, or whether trends for forestry workers are different to other workers. Repeating this survey over time would enable identification of whether forest industry workers are experiencing changes in levels of health problems over time.

This is an image of a graph Figure 34: Health problems experienced by forest worker survey respondents. 

Figure 34: Health problems experienced by forest worker survey respondents

As well as asking about health problems experienced, the survey asked worker’s perceptions of the level of risk their work presented to their wellbeing. Responses are shown in Figure 35.

The level of noise experienced at work was perceived to be the smallest risk to forest industry employees. Physical elements of working in the forest industry, and the equipment used were usually considered to present no or little risk. This is likely to reflect the bias in survey responses towards those who are primarily office-based employees.

Aspects of working in the forest industry which led to the largest perceived level of risk were stress and the numbers of hours worked, with 62% and 38% of all respondents respectively rating these as medium to very high risks.

Forestry workers located in the Green Triangle were very similar to all other respondents to the survey, with the same trends reported in terms of work risk. The small differences evident are likely to be the result of the small sample achieved for the Green Triangle, and cannot be confidently identified as indicating differences between workers in the Green Triangle and elsewhere.

This is an image of a graph Figure 35: Workplace risks identified by survey respondents. 

Figure 35: Workplace risks identified by survey respondents

Overall, the responses indicate that the survey approach can provide useful information on worker health. However, it is not possible to identify the extent to which health problems were linked to the workplace for many of the health issues identified; and the small sample means it is not possible to identify how representative these responses are of workers in the forest industry as a whole. While this survey provided useful data for forest industry workers as a whole, it was less useful in identifying any regional differences in forest worker health. Use of a survey to identify these issues should be carefully designed and resourced to enable a large sample of workers to be surveyed, if different regions are to be adequately compared.

3.3.4 Wellbeing of forestry workers

The survey sent to forestry workers asked them to rate their level of satisfaction with a range of issues related to their life, work, family and income (see Figures 36, 37 and 38). The survey responses to questions about satisfaction with their own lives and financial situation (Figure 36) suggest that forest industry workers are generally happy with most aspects of their life, particularly life in general and the area in which they live, although their level of satisfaction of their financial situation and health was slightly lower than for other aspects of their lives. Green Triangle respondents were very similar to other workers in all aspects. As previously, the small differences evident between workers in the Green Triangle and other workers are likely to reflect the small sample size achieved from the Green Triangle rather than actual differences in level of satisfaction.

This is an image of a graph Figure 36: Forest workers? satisfaction with life ? survey responses. 

Figure 36: Forest workers’ satisfaction with life – survey responses

Forestry workers satisfaction with different aspects of their work varied more widely. Workers who responded to the survey were asked their level of satisfaction with the challenge in their work, control and independence, job security, balance, workmates and other people, and with their job overall (Figures 37 and 38). Responses to this question from Green Triangle respondents were similar to the average for all respondents, indicating that the issues raised by Green Triangle respondents, such as dissatisfaction with support received from organisations outside the industry, are common across the industry nationally rather than being region-specific.

Forestry workers were in general less satisfied with the following compared to other aspects of their work:

  • the level of support received from groups outside the forest industry such as local government and other community bodies;
  • the rules set by government on how the forest industry can operate; and
  • the fairness of decisions about management of the forest industry.

All these issues relate to the views and decisions of people outside the industry about the industry, and indicate these external influences are a key factor influencing wellbeing and work satisfaction. There was also less satisfaction with long-term viability of the industry than other aspects of work for many respondents.

This is an image of a graph Figure 37: Forest workers? satisfaction with their work ? all survey respondents. 

Figure 37: Forest workers’ satisfaction with their work – all survey respondents

This is an image of a graph Figure 38: Forest workers? satisfaction with their work ? Green Triangle. 

Figure 38: Forest workers’ satisfaction with their work – Green Triangle

A third set of questions asked forest industry workers about the level of importance of a range of factors related to their work (Figure 39). Most aspects were considered highly important, with the following rated as highly important by the greatest number of respondents:

  • a sense of worthwhile accomplishment;
  • having independent control over work done;
  • fair and consistent management;
  • stimulating and challenging work; and
  • a good work-life balance.

Of slightly less importance were aspects such as income and job security. The factor considered by the most number of people to be of lowest importance was interactions with the public forming part of their work.

Responses to these questions may assist in the understanding of levels of satisfaction with life and work as indicated by factors illustrated in Figure 36 to 38.

This is an image of a graph Figure 39: Importance of different aspects of work in the forest industry ? survey responses. 

Figure 39: Importance of different aspects of work in the forest industry – survey responses

3.3.5 Demographic characteristics – age

Changes in the age composition of the forestry workforce may have a range of consequences for the industry, and may also reflect impacts forestry has on its workforce. For example, if the investment in terms of skills training or, in the case of some contractors, funds to purchase equipment needed to enter the industry are high, this may prevent many younger people from entering the industry. Higher than average ageing of the labour force can indicate issues such as difficulty recruiting new workers into the workforce, and likely future skills and labour shortages if older workers retire without new workers in a younger age demographic replacing them.

The proportion of forestry workers falling into different age groups are compared to the total labour force in 2006 for major regions within the Green Triangle in Figure 4023. Appendix 3 provides the same data for each SLA in the case study region24.

In most parts of the Green Triangle, there are fewer forest industry workers aged 15-24, and more aged 25-44, than the average for the total labour force. In the 45-54 age groups, forest industry workers and the labour force are similar, while the 55-64 and 65 and older age groups have a lower proportion of forest industry workers compared to the total labour force.

No major differences are apparent between Australia, South Australia, Victoria, and the South East, Western District and Wimmera regions. While there are some differences in the Wimmera region compared to others, this region also has a small number of forestry workers, and it cannot be assessed whether the differences indicate a difference between regions, or are an artefact of the small sample.

Overall, forestry workers have a slightly younger age profile than the labour force in general, with the exception of 15-24 year olds.

The average annual rate of change in the proportion of forestry workers and the labour force falling into different age groups is shown in Figure 41. It can be seen that:

  • The forest industry experienced a greater drop in the proportion of the workforce aged 15-24 and 25-34 over 1996 to 2006 compared to the total labour force;
  • The forest industry has experienced a slightly lower drop in the 35-44 year age group than the overall labour force for most regions over 2001 to 2006, and in two cases (South Australia and Wimmera) experienced growth in this category while there was a decline in this category for the overall labour force;
  • The forest industry has experienced greater growth in the 45-54 age groups compared to the overall labour force in all regions except the Wimmera
  • In the 55-64 age group, there is considerable variability across regions – in some, the forestry workforce experienced greater growth than the overall labour force; while the reverse was true in other regions; and
  • The South Australian forestry industry has experienced much lower growth in workers aged 65 and over than the overall labour force and than the Australian forest industry on average, while the Victorian forest industry experienced higher than average growth in workers aged 65. In the South East and Western Districts, there was much greater growth in the proportion of forest industry workers aged over 65 than in the labour force as a while for the same category.

This indicates that the forestry workforce, while still having an overall slightly younger age profile than that of the total labour force, is ageing more rapidly than the total labour force, particularly in the South East and Western Districts.

This is an image of a graph Figure 40: Proportion of labour force in different age groups, 2006. 

Figure 40: Proportion of labour force in different age groups, 2006

This is an image of a graph Figure 41: Average annual rate of change of age by percentage of labour force, 2001-2006. 

Figure 41: Average annual rate of change of age by percentage of labour force, 2001-2006

3.3.6 Demographic characteristics - gender

The proportion of male and female workers in the forest industry provides useful information on gender issues and access to the industry by men and women. This indicator identifies the proportion of the forestry workforce that is male and female, and compares this to employment in the general labour force.

The gender of workers in the forestry workforce in 2006 is compared to the gender of those working in the labour force as a whole in Figure 42. It can be seen that25:

  • The forest industry has a much higher proportion of male workers than the average for the labour force, and a lower proportion of female workers; and
  • This pattern holds across all regions, and also at SLA scale (see Appendix 3 for data at SLA scale)26.

The average annual rate of change in the proportion of the workforce who are male and female is shown in Figure 43, comparing the forest industry and overall labour force. In all regions except the Wimmera, growth in female participation in the forestry workforce was higher than the average for the labour force as a whole. This indicates that the different in the gender balance of workers between the forest industry and the workforce as a whole is narrowing, albeit slowly, both in the Green Triangle and in Australia as a whole.

This is an image of a graph Figure 42: Percentage of male and female workers in forest industry and overall labour force, 2006. 

Figure 42: Percentage of male and female workers in forest industry and overall labour force, 2006

This is an image of a graph Figure 43: Average annual change in proportion of males and females in the workforce, 2001-06. 

Figure 43: Average annual change in proportion of males and females in the workforce, 2001-06

3.3.7 Attachment to place

A forest industry worker’s attachment to the place they live and/or work in can be an important indicator of how they are affected by changes in the industry. Having a high level of attachment to place may mean workers rely on the forest industry for employment that allows them to maintain their attachment to place, and will be unwilling to change the location of their employment if a change happens in the industry.

Information on attachment to place was gathered by asking questions in the survey of forestry workers undertaken for this consultancy. Attachment was identified by asking questions about the length of time, they and their family have lived in the local area, and their desire to continue living and working in the area.

Most respondents are somewhat or strongly attached to the local community they live in (Figure 44), although Green Triangle forestry workers were more likely to rate their local community as a ‘good’ rather than ‘excellent’ place to live (Figure 45).

This is an image of a graph Figure 44: Strength of attachment to local community ? survey respondents. 

Figure 44: Strength of attachment to local community – survey respondents

This is an image of a graph Figure 45: Rating of local community as a place to live ? survey respondents. 

Figure 45: Rating of local community as a place to live – survey respondents

Fewer Green Triangle forestry workers expect to be living in the same place five years from now compared to other respondents, with more expressing uncertainty about whether this would be the case (Figure 46).

The length of time forestry workers had lived in their current locality ranged from less than one year to more than 50 years. The average was similar for Green Triangle forestry workers (15 years) and all respondents (15.2 years). More than 80% of respondents indicated that they were the first generation to live in the area, with similar results for respondents based in the Green Triangle versus other regions.

This is an image of a graph Figure 46: Responses to question ?Do you expect to be living in the same place five years from now? 

Figure 46: Responses to question ‘Do you expect to be living in the same place five years from now?

Overall, forestry workers indicate a reasonably strong attachment to place, although most do not have long-standing family attachments to the region they live in, and a large proportion are either not planning to be living in the same region in five years time, or unsure. Green Triangle forestry workers may have somewhat lower attachment to the localities they live in than other respondents to the survey, being less likely to rate their community as an excellent place to live, and less likely to indicate they would still be living in the same location in five years time.

3.3.8 Social and family attachment to forestry

Similarly to being attached to the local area in which they live and work, forestry workers may have a social or family attachment to the forest industry which affects how they cope with changes to the industry. People with a strong social or family attachment to forestry – assessed by identifying the extent to which their family members and friends work in the industry, their involvement in forest industry organisations, and length of time spent working in the industry – may find it more difficult to adjust to some types of changes in the industry.

Data for this indicator were collected via the survey of forestry workers.

Green Triangle forestry workers had worked in the industry for an average of 11.4 years (n=20), compared to 14.9 years for all respondents (n=120). However, when asked what proportion of their working lives had been spent in the forest industry, Green Triangle forestry workers were reasonably similar to other respondents (Figure 47).

This is an image of a graph Figure 47: Proportion of working life survey respondents had spent in the forest industry. 

Figure 47: Proportion of working life survey respondents had spent in the forest industry

Just under 30% respondents indicated that other members of their household have jobs within the forest industry (see Figure 48), while the large majority did not have others in their household working in the industry. Less than 15% of respondents had at least one other member of their immediate and extended family working in the forest industry or forest related jobs, while a larger number who had friends who were also forest industry employees (see Figure 49). Twenty two per cent of respondents indicated that more than one generation of their family had worked in the industry. Respondents also tended to speak to other forest workers not living with them more than they spoke to family and friends not living with them; this higher rate is most likely due to daily contact with work colleagues (see Figure 50).

This is an image of a graph Figure 48: Do other members of your household work in the forest industry? ? survey responses. 

Figure 48: Do other members of your household work in the forest industry? – survey responses

This is an image of a graph Figure 49: Proportion of family and friends working in forest industry ? survey responses. 

Figure 49: Proportion of family and friends working in forest industry – survey responses

This is an image of a graph Figure 50: Frequency with which survey respondents spoke or met with relatives, friends, and other forest workers. 

Figure 50: Frequency with which survey respondents spoke or met with relatives, friends, and other forest workers

3.3.9 Hours worked

The number of hours a person works has the potentially to influence their wellbeing. Excessively high work hours may contribute to stress and a poor work/life balance; working less hours than desired may also reduce wellbeing. For this reason, monitoring trends in work hours can be a useful way of identifying wellbeing of forestry workers.

Forestry workers are less likely to work under 34 hours, and more likely to work 35 hours or more per week, than the average for the labour force, as can be seen in Table 4 for the regions of Australia, Victoria, South Australia, and the South East, Western District and Wimmera regions.

The average annual rate of change over 2001 to 2006 in number of hours worked, for each category of working hours, is shown in Figures 51 to 56. Over this period, there was greater decline in the proportion of forestry workers in Australia, South Australia and Victoria who worked less than 25 hours compared to the labour force as a whole. The Green Triangle showed different patterns, with the proportion of forestry workers in the South East working 1-14 hours growing at a faster rate than the average, and the proportion of forestry workers working 15-24 hours in the Western District and Wimmera regions growing more rapidly than the average. The forest industry experienced less decline in the proportion of the workforce working 25 hours or more compared to the labour force overall.

This indicates that the forest industry in the Green Triangle is maintaining a higher proportion of full-time work compared to the labour force overall. This is different to the trend for the workforce as a whole; a common trend noted across Australia in recent years has been increasing levels of part-time work. This trend is not as evident in the forest industry (with the exception, to some extent, of the South East region of South Australia), with the forest industry on average maintaining, or in some areas increasing, average hours worked per person.

The proportion of forestry workers who work more than 40 hours per week has been growing across Australia and South Australia. Within the Green Triangle, there is less evidence of this trend, with few regions within the Green Triangle showing an increasing trends in the proportion of workers who work more than 40 hours a week.

Data for individual SLAs is shown in Appendix 3. The high variability and small sample size means that it is more appropriate to present and analyse at the regional, rather than the local, level for this indicator27.

Table 4: Hours worked – comparison of labour force and forest industry workers

Percent of workforce working different hours - 2006

Australia

South Australia

Victoria

South East (SA)

Western District (Vic)

Wimmera (Vic)

Labour force - None

3.7%

4.0%

3.6%

5.8%

4.5%

4.1%

Forestry - None

2.9%

3.7%

3.0%

4.9%

3.4%

0.0%

Labour force - 1-15 hours

10.8%

11.5%

11.6%

10.9%

12.6%

11.6%

Forestry - 1-15 hours

3.7%

3.1%

3.5%

2.0%

2.8%

4.1%

Labour force - 16-24 hours

8.9%

9.1%

9.0%

8.5%

9.0%

9.0%

Forestry - 16-24 hours

3.9%

3.2%

3.7%

2.2%

6.0%

8.2%

Labour force - 25-34 hours

9.8%

11.0%

9.4%

9.7%

9.8%

10.2%

Forestry - 25-34 hours

5.0%

5.2%

4.6%

3.9%

6.0%

4.1%

Labour force - 35-39 hours

16.8%

18.9%

16.2%

14.7%

13.5%

13.4%

Forestry - 35-39 hours

24.3%

25.1%

23.7%

21.4%

22.5%

28.8%

Labour force - 40 hours

18.3%

15.8%

19.3%

16.2%

16.5%

18.0%

Forestry - 40 hours

20.8%

20.0%

22.2%

23.5%

25.3%

35.6%

Labour force - 41-48 hours

11.1%

11.2%

11.1%

12.0%

10.0%

9.6%

Forestry - 41-48 hours

16.8%

18.5%

17.1%

20.7%

16.0%

9.6%

Labour force - 49 hours and over

17.7%

15.8%

16.9%

19.4%

21.2%

21.4%

Forestry - 49 hours and over

20.4%

19.5%

20.0%

19.8%

16.4%

9.6%

Labour force - Not stated

2.8%

2.5%

2.8%

2.8%

3.0%

2.8%

Forestry - Not stated

2.2%

1.7%

2.1%

1.6%

1.7%

0.0%

Data source: ABS Census of Population and Housing 2001, 2006.

This is an image of a graph Figure 51: Average annual rate of change in working hours by category, 2001-2006 - Australia. 

Figure 51: Average annual rate of change in working hours by category, 2001-2006 - Australia

This is an image of a graph Figure 52: Average annual rate of change in working hours by category, 2001-2006 ? South Australia. 

Figure 52: Average annual rate of change in working hours by category, 2001-2006 – South Australia

This is an image of a graph Figure 53: Average annual rate of change in working hours by category, 2001-2006 ? Victoria. 

Figure 53: Average annual rate of change in working hours by category, 2001-2006 – Victoria

This is an image of a graph Figure 54: Average annual rate of change in working hours by category, 2001-2006 ? South East SD, South Australia. 

Figure 54: Average annual rate of change in working hours by category, 2001-2006 – South East SD, South Australia

This is an image of a graph Figure 55: Average annual rate of change in working hours by category, 2001-2006 ? Western District SD, Victoria. 

Figure 55: Average annual rate of change in working hours by category, 2001-2006 – Western District SD, Victoria

This is an image of a graph Figure 56: Average annual rate of change in working hours by category, 2001-2006 ? Wimmera SD, Victoria. 

Figure 56: Average annual rate of change in working hours by category, 2001-2006 – Wimmera SD, Victoria

3.3.10 Educational qualifications

The level of formal qualifications a person has achieved is a good predictor of their employment and income earning capacity. Higher levels of education may assist workers in adapting to change in the forest industry, particularly technological change. A high level of education is therefore often viewed as indicative of highly skilled workers who are likely to earn a good income and be adaptable to changing needs within an industry. Low education levels may indicate lower adaptability, although it is important not to over-estimate the influence of education – other factors also influence people’s ability to adapt to change.

This indicator identifies the proportion of forest industry workers with different levels of formal educational qualifications, and compares it to the average across the whole labour force.

In general (Figure 57):

  • Forest industry workers are more likely to have a post-school qualifications than average for the total population aged over 1528;
  • Forest industry workers are more likely to have a certificate or diploma than average for the whole population; and
  • Forest industry workers are less likely to have a bachelor degree or postgraduate qualification than average for the whole population.

Green Triangle forestry workers are very similar to those in Australia, South Australia and Victoria; within the Green Triangle the only region showing different trends is the Wimmera, which has a very small number of forestry workers.

Overall the forest industry has experienced a slower rate of decline in the proportion of workers with no post-school qualifications compared to the average for the whole population (Figure 58), and slower growth in the proportion of workers with a certificate/diploma, or a bachelor degree or postgraduate qualification. This has varied slightly in some regions – for example, in Victoria the proportion of forestry workers with a bachelor degree or higher greater slightly faster than the proportion within the labour force as a whole. This means that while forest industry workers are currently more likely than average to have a post-school qualification or hold a certificate or diploma, this gap may lessen over time based on the trends over 2001 to 2006.

These patterns hold for most but not all Statistical Local Areas, as can be seen in Appendix 329.

This is an image of a graph Figure 57: Proportion of population with different types of educational qualification ? forest industry and total population aged over 15, 2006. 

Figure 57: Proportion of population with different types of educational qualification – forest industry and total population aged over 15, 2006

This is an image of a graph Figure 58: Average annual rate of change of population with different types of educational qualifications, 2001-2006. 

Figure 58: Average annual rate of change of population with different types of educational qualifications, 2001-2006

3.4 Impacts of the forest industry on Indigenous people

The following indicators provide information that can assist in monitoring the social and economic impacts of the forest industry on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, through monitoring:

  • The proportion of forest industry workers who are Indigenous people;
  • The type of employment Indigenous people have in the forest industry; and
  • The area of forest owned or accessed by Indigenous people.

These indicators provide a picture of some aspects of Indigenous involvement in the forest industry. They represent only a small subset of issues around forestry and Indigenous people, however, and must be accompanied by in-depth studies which examine the values and importance of forests for different Indigenous groups, and capacity building and skills needed by both the forest industry and Indigenous people to improve engagement between the industry and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.

3.4.1 Indigenous employment in the forest industry – quantity

The proportion of Indigenous workers in the forestry workers, and how this is changing over time, is one measure of Indigenous participation in forestry in Australia. Change over time in the proportion of Indigenous workers may indicate that barriers to Indigenous people working in the industry, such as issues related to skills and resources needed to access work in the industry, are changing.

As very few people employed in the forest industry identify themselves as Indigenous, this indicator can only be reported to the statistical division scale, with data not able to be reported for individual SLAs.

The Green Triangle forest industry has a lower than average proportion of Indigenous workers in its labour force. The proportion of workers in the forest industry and the overall labour force who self-identified as indigenous in 2006 is shown in Figure 59, as is the ‘non-response’ rate, meaning the percentage of people who did not indicate whether they were indigenous or non-indigenous30. The figure shows that South Australia, Victoria, and the South East, Western District and Wimmera regions have a lower proportion of Indigenous workers than the Australian average, in both the forest industry and the total labour force. The difference is largest for the forest industry workforce, which has a very low proportion of Indigenous workers.

While Indigenous employment as a proportion of the workforce is lower in the Green Triangle than the Australian average, it is growing more rapidly, so may shift over time to being similar to the rest of the workforce. The average annual rate of change in the proportion of Indigenous and non-Indigenous workers, shown in Figure 60, indicates that growth in Indigenous workers in the forest industry over 2001-06 was higher in South Australia, Victoria and the South East region, and lower in the Wimmera and Western District than the Australian average. Rates of growth in Indigenous employment in forestry were higher than growth in Indigenous employment in the overall labour force for South Australia, Victoria and the South East region.

This is an image of a graph Figure 59: Percentage of Indigenous workers and non-response rate ? forest industry and total labour force, 2006. 

Figure 59: Percentage of Indigenous workers and non-response rate – forest industry and total labour force, 2006

This is an image of a graph Figure 60: Average annual rate of change, 2001-2006, in Indigenous and non-Indigenous employment. 

Figure 60: Average annual rate of change, 2001-2006, in Indigenous and non-Indigenous employment

3.4.2 Indigenous employment in the forest industry – type

As well as knowing how many Indigenous people work in the forest industry, it is important to identify what types of jobs they work in. A high rate of employment does not necessarily indicate that Indigenous people are able to access all types of work in the industry including management positions. This social indicator identifies the proportion of indigenous employees who have different types of occupation within the forest industry, such as field worker, manager or administrator.

Similarly to the previous indicator, the low rate of Indigenous employment means this indicator can only be meaningfully reported at large scale – in this case, at national and state scale only.

The proportion of Indigenous forestry workers is compared to the proportion of all forest workers who have different types of occupation in Figure 61. It can be seen that:

  • Indigenous forestry workers are less likely to be managers, professionals, technicians and trades workers, clerical and administrative workers, or sales workers, compared to the forestry workforce as a whole; and
  • Indigenous forestry workers are more likely to be working as machinery operators and drivers, and labourers, compared to the overall forestry workforce.

The only exception to this trend was in South Australia, where Indigenous workers were as likely as non-Indigenous workers to be working as managers. As most South Australian forestry employment is located in the Green Triangle, these workers are likely to be located in the Green Triangle.

This is an image of a graph Figure 61: Proportion of workers with different occupations ? Indigenous and total forestry workforce, 2006. 

Figure 61: Proportion of workers with different occupations – Indigenous and total forestry workforce, 2006

3.4.3 Area of forest owned or accessed by Indigenous people

The cultural and social importance of forests to Indigenous people goes well beyond being a source of employment. Access to forests can be highly important for many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, and this social indicator identifies the total area owned or accessed by Indigenous people, using data on the location of Native Title determinations and appeals, and areas containing Indigenous Land Use Agreements.

Table 5 identifies the total area of forest land owned by Indigenous people in different states and territories, and the area of forest on the Register of the National Estate for Indigenous values.

It can be seen that there is a relatively small area of Indigenous-owned forest in Victoria compared to most other States except Tasmania, and South Australia ranks fourth in terms of area of native forest owned by Indigenous people. South Australia and Victoria also have a relatively small area of native forest listed on the Register of the National Estate for Indigenous Values. It is not possible to identify what proportion of the forest area listed in the table is located in the Green Triangle.

The data on which this indicator is based are a fairly limited representation of the extent to which Indigenous people may access and utilise forest resources in Australia, or of the spiritual and cultural significant of forests to different Indigenous people. It may be best to undertake more in-depth work to better understand how to monitor access to forests and how this is changing over time.

Table 5: Forest land owned and accessed by Indigenous people, 2007

 

Native forest owned by Indigenous people (hectares)

Plantation owned by Indigenous people (hectares)

Native forest on Register of the National Estate for Indigenous values (hectares)

New South Wales

197,000

0

96,000

Northern Territory

15,342,000

15,000

790,000

Queensland

3,374,000

2,000

458,000

Western Australia

1,645,000

1,000

4,000

South Australia

283,000

0

51,000

Tasmania

4,000

0

2,000

Victoria

4,000

0

173,000

Australia

20,848,000

19,000

1,574,000

Data source: Bureau of Rural Sciences National Forest Inventory as reported in Australia’s State of the Forests report


19 Data for this indicator were calculated using ABS statistics. While the survey of forestry workers undertaken for this case study also asked for information on income, the sample achieved does not provide a robust analysis of distribution of income within the forestry labour force and was not high enough to analyse differences between forestry sectors. Key limitations of the ABS data include that:

  • The ABS changed their income categories substantially between the 2001 and 2006 Census of Population and Housing. This means there is limited comparability of data across these two periods, although some comparison is possible. As a result, the income categories are unevenly distributed as they have been grouped into categories that are possible to compare across the two periods
  • ABS data can only be realistically presented for regions which had >50 forestry workers. This is because in areas where there are few forestry workers, randomisation of data by the ABS to preserve confidentiality may mean the data do not accurately represent average forestry income, and because the small sample involved means it is not possible to identify whether variation in income distribution is a natural function of the variation expected in a small sample, or reflects actual differences in income between regions.

20 Data by SLA are shown in Appendix 3; it can be seen that there is variation within SLAs, however the small numbers of people employed in many SLAs means it is not possible to evaluate if the distribution of income reflects differences in income paid across regions, or simply reflects (a) randomisation of data by the ABS and (b) variation that would be expected when comparing small samples.
21 The ‘$1,000 to $1499/1599’ category has two ranges as the ABS changed the income ranges for which they collect data over time. Before 2006, income was measured up to $1,499; after 2006, income was measured up to $1,599.
22 The data is presented two ways: in Figure 32, change in reported injury rates over time for each industry can be compared; in Figure 33, the rate of injuries for a defined period of time can be compared across different industries.
23 The data presented are based on ABS statistics; while the survey of forestry workers asked for information on age, the sample received was not high enough to use as an analysis of age distribution within the workforce.
24 Age distribution of the workforce varied considerably by SLA, as can be seen in Appendix 3. As with previous indicators, the small numbers of workers in some SLAs mean that fairly wide variation would be expected to result simply from chance, and so it is not possible to identify if patterns seen in any individual SLA are the result of specific workforce issues – for example, changes in the forest industry leading to an ageing of the workforce, or new and younger workers being attracted into a region by establishment of new forestry activity – or if they simply reflect the wide distribution expected when small numbers are involved.
25 This indicator is presented based on ABS statistics; while the survey of forestry workers asked for information on gender, the sample received was not high enough to provide a robust analysis of distribution of age within the forestry labour force and was not high enough to analyse differences between forestry sectors.
26 The proportion of male and female workers varies more widely at SLA scale, likely a result of small numbers of workers in some SLAs which is usually associated with wider variability in characteristics when expressed as a percentage than for larger numbers.
27 At the Statistical Local Area scale, small numbers of workers in some SLAs mean that there is wide variation in the proportion of workers who worked different hours per week. This can be seen in the tables shown in Appendix 3. It is therefore recommended that this indicator be examined at the regional, rather than the local scale, so that high enough numbers of forestry workers are included to ensure trends represented are meaningful trends rather than reflecting random variation resulting from only having a small sample of workers.
28 Formal qualifications are only measured for the population aged over 15 years, to avoid bias in estimating the proportion of the population with qualifications, which would occur if children still attending school were included.
29 A key issue with this indicator is that at the Statistical Local Area scale, small numbers of workers in some SLAs mean that there is wide variation in the educational qualifications. It is not possible to tell if variation in individual SLAs is the result of the random distribution expected when small numbers are involved, or of significant differences in educational qualifications of forest industry workers across different locations. With small numbers of workers, it is not possible to identify where trends are significant, and hence it is recommended that this indicator is best analysed at the regional, rather than the local, level.
30 The proportion of people who were non-indigenous is not shown, as it is over 95% in all cases and reduces the ability to compare indigenous status across the forest industry and the total labour force.​