Nation-leading partnership grows employment opportunities for Tasmanians living with a disability

A nation-leading partnership is growing employment opportunities in the sustainable native forestry sector for Tasmanians living with a disability.

Neville Smith Forest Products (NSFP) and Possability Group have formed a long-term strategic partnership to produce high-end decorative Tasmanian Oak products at Possability’s Oakdale Timber facility in Warrane.

NSFP CEO Andrew Walker said the organisation was proud to be able to give back to the Tasmanian community.

“Having operated in Tasmania since 1924 and directly employing over 120 Tasmanians, Neville Smith Forest Products is immensely proud to be able to give back to the community and help Oakdale Timber provide employment opportunities for people living with a disability,” Mr Walker said.

“Under the partnership, NSFP provide management and skill development to assist the Oakdale team to produce high-end decorative Tasmanian Oak products for markets across Australia.

“Consumer demand for sustainably produced Tasmanian Oak and other native species is at a record level and continues to grow year on year which has led to significant future joint expansion plans between NSFP and Oakdale in Tasmania.

“Domestic value adding and selling into Australian markets reduces exposure to export risks and the need to import native timber to perform the same, high end applications “

“This expansion will ultimately deliver increased collaboration, training and employment opportunities for those living with a disability and supports all layers of a sustainable native forestry supply chain.”

Possability Group CEO, Drew Beswick, said the partnership demonstrated how a commercial business and a not for profit could work together for a more inclusive workplace.

“This partnership is a unique initiative for Australia in that it integrates the desired employment outcomes of the National Disability Insurance Scheme with a commercially focussed business operation,” Mr Beswick said.

“The partnership has secured the jobs of 12 supported employees at the Warrane site, where workers have access to support and training as needed. It has also led the creation of an additional jobs at NSFP’s Mowbray (Northern Tasmanian) site, with significant further opportunities in advanced manufacturing to follow”

Tasmanian Forest Products Association CEO, Nick Steel, said that the collaboration highlights just how important forestry is to the Tasmanian community.

“Tasmania’s forestry industry is the ultimate renewable. Because we have such a well-managed industry we will be able to support the community for generations to come. The partnership between Possability and NSFP is a great example of how the forestry industry is investing in our community and making a real difference to the lives of many Tasmanians. The fact that there are plans to further expand this nation-leading partnership is fantastic news,” Mr Steel said.